Trust Chennai Super Kings to give their best in big games. It was an easy walk in the park for Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co, who rolled over a hapless Mumbai Indians to enter the Qualifiers 2 of the Indian Premier League 7 at the Brabourne Stadium on Wednesday. It is end of road for the Rohit Sharma-led team this year.
Chennai defeated the hosts by seven wickets in the Eliminator round that turned out to be a one-sided affair after the visitors — riding on entertaining knocks from Suresh Raina (54 not out) and David Hussey (40 not out) — made a formidable total of 174 look easy. Chennai achieved their target in 18.4 overs.
The winners will now meet the losers of Qualifier 1 – Kings XI Punjab – at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. The winner of Qualifier 2 will take on Kolkata Knight Riders, who defeated KXIP in Kolkata early on Wednesday, in the final to be played in M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore on Sunday.
It was always an easy chase for CSK who had a strong batting line-up. The openers delivered a strong start as Dwayne Smith and Faf du Plessis went hammer and tongs against the seamers. Barring one close call where umpire Bruce Oxenford blundered by not giving Smith out who was trapped plumb in front of the wickets by Praveen Kumar.
Smith and Du Plesis entertained the crowd with some beautiful strokes as the duo went to stitch a 60-run stand for the first wicket. However, desperate shots from Smith and Du Plesis against Harbhajan Singh saw them return to the pavilion.
Brendon MucCullum, too, came up with a couple of big strikes but he unnecessarily stepped out Pragyan Ojha after being dropped once earlier, only to get stumped.
Later, Raina and David Hussey shared a solid unbeaten 89 run partnership to see them home.
Earlier, Lendl Simmons of Trinidad joined the list of the T20 experts and big hitters from the Caribbean this year and lived up to the high expectations.
Continuing his fine form in the league, Simmons came up with another half century – a crucial 67 — and guided the Rohit Sharma-led outfit to a competitive total of 173 for eight in 20 overs, after CSK won toss and elected to field.
It was Simmons's third 50-plus score this season apart from his unbeaten 100 against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali last week. His 44-ball innings along with vital knock from opener Michael Hussey (39) and cameos from Corey Anderson (20) and Rohit Sharma (20) led Mumbai to a formidable total.
It was followed by a dramatic collapse after Simmons dismissal where Mumbai Indians lost six wickets for 23 runs that restricted them from putting a bigger total on board.
Simmons and Hussey started off on a cautious note as Chennai bowlers bowled a tight line. Only 34 runs came in the first five overs of the powerplay. However, seamer Mohit Sharma, who came in first change, gave away 19 in one over where Simmons drove and pulled him for a six and a couple of boundaries that gave Mumbai some respite.
Once the spinners came in, the two were back to being calculative – taking singles and doubles and getting odd boundaries. Simmons was the aggressive one. With the asking rate going high, Hussey went for a wild shot against left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and failed to connect it only to see his stumps disturbed. The duo were involved in a 76-run stand for the first wicket.
As last match hero Corey Anderson walked out to bat, the crowd cheered loudly. The southpaw didn't disappoint and went for a couple of big slog sweeps that got him maximums. He also successfully experimented with reverse sweeps that got him a boundary against Jadeja. Just when things were looking good, another slog against R Ashwin landed in the hands of long on fielder Ishwar Pandey.
Simmons meanwhile was in his elements. He paired up with Rohit later and went after Chennai bowlers. Rohit, too, stepped out hitting Ashish Nehra to the covers boundary.
Once Simmons fell to Jadeja, rest of the five wickets, including Rohit's, fell in quick succession, restricting Mumbai to 173.
Seamer Mohit got three wickets though he went for runs, while Nehra and Jadeja got a couple of wickets.