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The opening match of IPL season 5 between the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians rather surprisingly turned out to be a one sided affair as the Indians dominated the game from start to finish thanks to some poor batting from Chennai and a powerful 50 off 35 balls from debutant Richard Levi that took the match away from Dhoni's men completely. After being put in to bat, Chennai failed to cope with a relaid pitch, laden with live grass as they folded for a paltry 112 all out in 19.5 overs. Mumbai romped home by 8-wickets to register a crushing first win.
The first game of Season 5 of the Indian Premier League between two champion teams - Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians kicked off at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday night in front of a full house. On a strange Chennai wicket that was laden with a sizeable amount of live grass, the new MI captain Harbhajan Singh elected to field first on winning the toss. South Africa's explosive opener Richard Levi made his IPL debut and in the absence of Aussie pacer Mitchell Johnson, who wasn't match fit, Kiwi James Franklin held his place in the side. Chennai went in batting heavy with two genuine all-rounders in Albie Morkel and Dwayne Bravo filling in the bowling needs.
The Mumbai Indians got off to an ideal start as make shift opener Faf du Plessis was run out for 3 in the first over via a direct hit from Ambati Rayudu at cover. The IPL's leading run getter Suresh Raina got into the act straight away by smacking a boundary and a sweetly hit six off Abu Nechim. James Franklin put Mumbai ahead in the 6th over as he ended Murali Vijay's painful stay at the crease, having him caught at mid-wicket after he made 10 off 17 balls. After 6 overs the game was evenly poised with Chennai on 42/2.
Suresh Raina was then joined by Dwayne Bravo and the exuberant duo added 37 runs in about 4 overs before Raina sliced a lofted shot from Pragyan Ojha straight into the hands of sweeper cover after making a quick fire 36. That wicket started a big slide for the Super Kings who capitulated from here on. They lost Bravo (19) and Albie Morkel (3) in quick succession to audacious shots that found fielders in the deep. The slide continued as skipper MS Dhoni too perished for 4 soon after, via a rare run out for the usually speedy runner. At the strategic time out, Chennai were tatters at 99/6 in 16 overs.
The last four overs saw more poor cricket from Chennai as Badrinath was the next to go for 10, picking out Harbhajan at mid-wicket off Pollard. Ravi Ashwin ran himself out too in typical fashion, hesitating to go for a second run. Million dollar man Ravindra Jadeja too didn't last long as he was bowled by Malinga for 3.
On the back of that amateurish display Chennai were all out for a 112, giving the mighty Mumbai side under 6 an over to chase to win this first game of IPL season 5.
The contrasting and yet power packed opening batsmen of the Mumbai Indians, Sachin Tendulkar and Richard Levi, got their team off to rollicking start as they stroked their way to 53/0 in the first six overs. Sachin was in fine touch, stroking the ball beautifully, while Levi, was as expected powering the ball through the on side making good use of his strong forearms. Dhoni tried as many as 4 bowlers in this period but to no avail. There were the odd plays and misses with the new ball jagging around briefly, but the game was already looking as good as over.
The onslaught finally ended in the 8th over as Bravo got rid of Levi, caught at long off, but not before he swiped through most of target by getting a powerful 50 off just 35 balls. That created a slight opening for Chennai as Doug Bollinger, who was brought back into the attack got rid of the No.3 Rohit Sharma caught behind for naught after softening him up with a blow to the body a ball before. Things got much brighter for the hosts a little while later as Sachin Tendulkar left the field injured after being hit on the fingers by a Bollinger delivery. Despite the setbacks, Mumbai were 76/2 at the half way stage in the chase, very much in control of the match.
The hiccups were only momentary as the pairing of James Franklin and Ambati Rayudu took control of proceedings. They milked the bowling and took the team through to victory without breaking much of a sweat despite Dhoni's attempts to put pressure on them by ringing in the changes.
Mumbai got over the line in a flourish in just 16.5 overs with boundaries off the last over from both the batsmen and thus registered their first and an important win in this tournament.
After the highly anticipated inaugural clash of IPL 5 between two of the strongest teams turned out to be a dampener owing to Mumbai's one sided win, the Indians will look to carry forward this momentum when the play Pune next in a couple of nights' time. Chennai on the contrary will be bitterly disappointed to lose badly at home and have some things to correct before they take on the Deccan Chargers next on the 7th of April.
Mumbai: S Tendulkar, R Levi, A Rayudu, R Sharma, D Karthik, K Pollard, J Franklin, L Malinga, H Singh, A Nechim, P Ojha
Chennai: M Vijay, F Du Plessis, S Raina, S Badrinath, MS Dhoni, D Bravo, A Morkel, R Jadeja, R Ashwin, S Jakati, D Bollinger.
Chennai Super Kings 112 all out (19.5 overs)
S Raina 36(26) K Pollard 2/15
D Bravo 19(19) L Malinga 2/16
Mumbai Indians 115/2 (16.5 overs)
R Levi 50(35) D Bravo 1/14
J Franklin 25*(30) D Bollinger 1/35
Mumbai win by 8-wickets with 19 balls to spare
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