Chennai, Apr 4: Mumbai Indians produced a fine all-round effort to make a dominant start to IPL 5 on Wednesday night. The Harbhajan Singh-led side crushed defending champions Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in a low-scoring match.
After being exceptional on the field, Richard Levi powered the chase of 113 for Mumbai Indians. They overhauled this small total in 16.5 overs, ending up with 115/2. On a two-paced pitch which had a bit of grass, Levi's quick half century proved crucial. Levi won the Man-of-the-match award.
Mumbai Indians' James Franklin called the pitch as "Un-Chennai" wicket. The fans expected a high scoring opener but they were left disappointed and it was not a packed stadium on the inaugural day of this latest edition of the cash-rich Twenty20 league.
Mumbai captain Harbhajan Singh said it was an unpredictable wicket and not the one seen in Chennai. He felt it was a good toss to win.
"It is not the normal Chennai wicket," conceded home captain MS Dhoni. He thought 140 to 145 runs would have been difficult for Mumbai to chase.
A rare loss for Chennai at home. They had made this stadium as a fortress. Before this match, the head-to-head record between these two sides was 4-4.
Levi announced his arrival at the IPL by smashing a 35-ball 50. The world record holder for Twenty20 International's fastest hundred in 45 balls and also a record 13 sixes in the same game against New Zealand, showed his batting prowess to the Indian fans on the opening day of IPL 5.
The South African fancied the on-side for his strokes. His power shots easily carried over the ropes. During his 69-run association with Sachin Tendulkar for the first wicket, he hit six boundaries and three sixes. Dwayne Bravo ended his innings when Doug Bollinger completed a catch at long-off.
By the time Levi departed, he had already put MI on road to victory in a small chase of 113. Tendulkar preferred to play a quiet innings as Levi hogged the limelight.
Rohit Sharma, at number three, was caught behind by MS Dhoni off Bollinger for a three-ball duck. Two wickets in two overs raised some hopes for CSK but the total was too little to defend.
After the strategic timeout, Tendulkar retired hurt. He was on 16 off 15 balls at the time. He was hit on his right glove by a Bollinger delivery. It looked like a finger injury to the Master Blaster.
James Franklin joined Ambati Rayudu after Tendulkar left the field. Franklin-Rayudu were cautious in their approach. They were content to take singles and doubles and the odd boundary followed. The run rate was well under control and the pair took the team home in 16.5 overs. Rayudu sealed the victory with a six off Bollinger.
Earlier, a disciplined bowling and fielding effort by Mumbai Indians restricted defending champions Chennai Super Kings to 112 all out in 19.5 overs.
Mumbai Indians effected three run outs while Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard and Pragyan Ojha took two wickets apiece. James Franklin accounted for one batsman.
Mumbai Indians maintained a strong hold right through with excellent fielding, catching and bowling. CSK's batsmen were kept quiet as only six fours and one six were scored by the hosts. Not the ideal start for this year's IPL, considering fans expected a lot more big shots.
CSK were jolted early in the first over. A brilliant direct hit by Ambati Rayudu found South African opener Faf du Plessis short of the crease. Du Plessis was dismissed for three runs off two balls. CSK were 4/1 in 0.4 overs.
Suresh Raina walked in at number three and hit the first six of this edition when he deposited a Abu Nechim delivery into the long-off boundary.
Murali Vijay, who struggled in the middle, was finally sent back to the pavilion by James Franklin for 10 runs off 17 balls. Vijay was deceived by a slower ball as he offered a simple catch to captain Harbhajan Singh at mid-on.
After losing two wickets early, CSK started to accelerate with Raina and Dwayne Bravo. But left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, in his first game for MI, turned the match. He dismissed both Raina and Bravo in quick succession to leave CSK at 80/4 in 11.2 overs.
Raina, who has not missed a game for CSK since the first edition in 2008, was looking good for a big score before his innings was cut short by Ojha. The left-hander made 36 off 26 with two boundaries and a six. Bravo scored a run-a-ball 19 with three fours.
South African left-hander Albie Morkel (3) failed to make much contribution as he soon followed Bravo as the home team slid further to 85/5 in 12.4 overs. Morkel was scalped by Kieron Pollard.
It was at this stage, captain MS Dhoni came out to bat with S Badrinath at the other end. Dhoni was run out for just four runs. Again a fine piece of fielding by MI got Dhoni. This time it was Nechim who sent a perfect throw to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik to get Dhoni's wicket.
After 15 overs, CSK had managed only six boundaries and a lone six and it remained the same till the end of their innings. They were 95/5 with five overs to go for the end of innings.
MI kept up the good work as they next got Badrinath immediately after the strategic timeout break. Pollard took his second wicket as Harbhajan pouched a low catch to dismiss Badrinath (10). CSK were 99/7 in 16.1 overs.
Another run out followed. This time Ashwin failed to make the crease in time, beaten by Harbhajan's throw to Karthik. CSK 103/8 in 17.1 after this third run out of the innings.
Ravindra Jadeja, the $ 2 million recruit for CSK, was the ninth man out for just three runs. He played a Malinga delivery onto the stumps.
Doug Bollinger was the last man out in the final over. He was dismissed by Malinga in the penultimate ball of the innings. A dismal batting performance by CSK, just 112 all out.
Toss Report: Mumbai Indians win toss, elect to field
Mumbai Indians' captain Harbhajan Singh won the toss and elected to field against Chennai Super Kings.
A 90-year-old coin was used for the toss. It was a King George coin of 1922 which Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni spun and Harbhajan called it right.
Harbhajan said that world record holder for fastest Twenty20 International hundred, Richard Levi of South Africa will make his IPL debut.
Along with Levi, Kieron Pollard (West Indies), James Franklin (New Zealand) and Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka) are the overseas players for Mumbai.
For Chennai, Doug Bollinger (Australia), Faf du Plessis (South Africa), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies) and Albie Morkel (South Africa) are the fourth foreign players in the playing XI.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who was bought by Chennai for $2 million in this year's auction, will make his Chennai debut today.
Chennai Super Kings are the defending champions. They have won the title for two years in a row. Mumbai Indians won the Champions League 2011.
"It is a different challenge and I am ready for the challenge. We have got a very good side. Looking forward to have a good IPL. Hopefully we can start on a good note," Harbhajan said before the toss.
"It will be a good exciting game. Chennai is always a good side," Harbhajan added.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath, Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Doug Bollinger, Faf du Plessis, Shadab Jakati.
Mumbai Indians: Harbhajan Singh (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Abu Nechim Ahmed, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Richard Levi.
Umpires: Johan Cloete (South Africa) and Simon Taufel (Australia)
Third Umpire: S. Ravi (India)
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)