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Chennai edge out Mumbai in thrilling dead rubber

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lasith_malingaIt was a day loaded with a cocktail of anticlimax, thrills and frills! What was expected to be a high profile clash starring the biggest names in T20 history was turned into a dead rubber by the Lions, who had advanced to the semis, knocking out Yorkshire, Chennai and Mumbai. However, nothing about the intense battle suggested that it was a dead rubber. In a cliffhanger that kept that audience on the edge of their seats, The Super Kings prevailed to capture their first victory of this year's CLT20. Riding high on Faf du Plessis' fifty and charming cameos from Murali Vijay(39) and MS Dhoni(35), Chennai posted a formidable 173-8. They would have touched 200 if it had not been for Lasith Malinga's 5 wicket haul that sparked off a mini middle order collapse.

In pursuit of 174, Mumbai were rocked early before Dinesh Karthik(74) forged two potent partnerships with Rohit Sharma(32) and Kieron Pollard(31). Karthik's was a fearless, enterprising knock adorned with 6 sixes and 4 fours. But his heroics proved to be inadequate with the ice-cool Ravindra Jadeja defending 19 from the last over. Ben Hilfenhaus(2-14) was adjudicated the Man of the Match for his pin-point accuracy and surgical precision.

With the rampaging Lions roaring to a victory over Yorkshire in the afternoon kick-off to stamp their ticket to the semi-finals, the much anticipated all IPL showdown between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians at the New Wanders in Johannesburg was reduced to nothing more than a dead rubber. Now, both the IPL high flyers have only pride to play for. The Group-B table toppers, Sydney Sixers have already claimed ownership rights for the semi-finals. Whilst Chennai are still point-less, Mumbai Indians, clad in blue and gold secured 2 points from the rain ruined encounter against Yorkshire on Thursday.

Mumbai skipper,Harbhajan Singh won the toss and stuck to the recent trend of bowling first. Both teams were unchanged from their previous assignments.

The meteorologists had predicted rain but it was raining sixes and fours from the big, broad blades of Murali Vijay and Faf du Plessis. Vijay plunged into the limelight straightaway, dancing down the track and hoisting Ojha for a massive six. Very soon, Faf du Plessis took over the chief-aggressor's role biffing Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga all around the park. Du Plessis' six over wide long on was as gorgeous as Vijay's favorite 'pick-up shot' over mid-wicket. In between there were a few inside edges as well. Dhoni mentioned at the toss that Chennai relied heavily on starts. Their openers had launched a blistering start, sprinting to 66-0 at the conclusion of the mandatory powerplay.

Bereft of answers, the Mumbai bowlers looked like deers caught in the headlines of a powerful vehicle. Against the run of play, Ojha clean bowled Vijay(39) thanks to a flatter delivery.

Lasith Malinga followed it up with a double strike to even the contest. Both Du Plessis and Raina were done in by the short ball. Faf had contributed a breezy 52 to Chennai's cause. The Mumbai bowlers hurried through the middle overs, applying the skids on the Super Kings.

S Barinath's painstacking stay(10-ball-2) at the crease ended when he thick-edged Dwayne Smith to gloveman, Dinesh Karthik.

Dhoni(35) though shed his subdued approach and donned the brazen, attacking avatar that made him a global phenomenon. Captain Marvel walloped 2 maximums and 3 boundaries before he was caught at backward point off Slinga Malinga. Albie Morkel(0) fell in the same over with senior statesman Sachin Tendulkar, completing a superbly judged catch in the deep. Though the middle order tapered off, Ravi Ashwin(13*) finished the innings with a six to push the Super Kings past the 170 mark. But given their electrifying start, Chennai would have liked a lot more than 173.

Ben Hilfenhaus, moving the ball off the seam, prised out Tendulkar(2) early, the extra-bounce doing the trick. Murali Vijay, who spilled a sitter in the 2nd over atoned for it by pouching a sharp catch at third man to signal the end of Dwayne Smith for 13. What was most impressive was the choice of line and length from the fast bowling trio of Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger and Albie Morkel. Mumbai were in dire straits at 25-2 in 6 overs.

Finally Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik decided to move on with some flamboyant strokes.They performed the balancing act of rebuilding the MI innings without losing track of the required rate. Ravindra Jadeja hemorrhaged 19 runs in his 3rd over. Dhoni responded by drafting Albie Morkel back into the attack. The strategy paid rich dividends as Morkel sniffed out the 64 run alliance by removing Rohit(32). The 25 year old flattered to deceive yet again. The next over, Ambati Rayudu(1) miscued a rank long hop from Du Plessis into the safe hands of Wriddhiman Saha.

Refusing to yield, Karthik continued to fight and fight hard. A high percentage of his runs came from pulls and sweeps. Kieron Pollard combined well with Karthik to reignite Mumbai's hopes. Ravi Ashwin, who has been ordinary this tournament was taken for 24 in the decisive ante-penultimate over. The equation read 27 from 12 balls. After conceding a six, Hilfy rumbled back to fox Karthik(74) by means of a canny leg cutter.

Jaddu defended 19 in the final over to script an incredible triumph for Chennai. The last over had all the ingredients of a Bollywood potboiler-even a super over appeared a possibility. Pollard whammed a flat six, Bhajji executed a four but the million dollar man held his nerve when it really mattered. Suresh Raina and Saha pulled off stunning catches to plot the demise of the two hitters.

Both Chennai and Mumbai wind up their CLT20 campaigns on Monday. While, CSK meet Yorkshire in the afternoon, Mumbai face Sydney later in the evening.


CSK: M Vijay, F du Plessis, S Raina, S Badrinath, MS Dhoni(c&wk), A Morkel, R Jadeja, W Saha, R Ashwin, D Bollinger, B Hilfenhaus

MI: S Tendulkar, D Smith, R Sharma, A Rayudu, D Karthik(wk), K Pollard, M Johnson, H Singh(c), P Ojha, D Kulkarni, L Malinga


CSK: 173-8 (20 overs, 8.65 rpo)
F du Plessis 52(33) L Malinga 5-32
MS Dhoni 35(19)  D Smith 1-17

MI: 167-7 (20 overs,8.35 rpo)
D Karthik 74(45) B Hilfenhaus 2-14
R Sharma 32(26) A Morkel 2-28

CSK won by 6 runs

File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20