The Chennai Super Kings captain's 51 not out helped guide his team to a 38-run victory and set up a final eliminator against Delhi Daredevils. Audio interviews
Chennai set up duel with Delhi in IPL play-offs as Mumbai exit
Mumbai Indians captain Harbhajan Singh conceded the innings of his opposite number MS Dhoni was "the game-changer" as the Chennai Super Kings moved within one win of the Indian Premier League final with a 38-run win in yesterday's elimination match in Bangalore.
A blistering 20-ball half-century by Dhoni propelled Chennai to 187 for five in their 20 overs and Mumbai were never in the hunt, limping to 149 for nine.
Harbhajan, said after the defeat: "Obviously, we are disappointed, but cannot change the result.
"Chennai played like champions. Dhoni's innings was the game-changer, it took it [the match] away from us. We could not do too much about his innings."
The win takes the Super Kings into tomorrow's second qualifying match, where they will face the Delhi Daredevils with the winners going on to the final against the Kolkata Knight Riderson Sunday.
Dhoni was well supported with by Michael Hussey and Subramaniam Badrinath, who put on 94 for the third wicket before the latter fell for 47 from 39 balls, hoisting Kieron Pollard to long-on as he looked to add to his boundary count of six fours and a six.
Hussey followed for a near-identical 49 from 39, with eight fours and a six, as Kulkarni took a superb catch at deep square-leg.
Man-of-the-match Dhoni was quick to heap praise on his fellow batsmen, while linking his own flowing form with the bat to his own flowing locks.:
"Maybe I should keep my hair longer if it can get me the runs, but a lot of credit to Badri and Hussey," said the Chennai captain.
"Badri is an unsung hero. Later me and [Dwayne] Bravo could do well with the bat.
Chennai started badly after being put in to bat, taking only one run from the first over and lost Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina to the first two balls of the next, bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni (three for 46).
Ravindra Jadeja made just one but Dhoni took centre stage, smashing six fours and two sixes as he put on 73 in less than five overs with Bravo, whose 14-ball 33 contained three fours and two sixes.
Mumbai's Dwayne Smith made 38 from 22 balls and put on 47 with opening partner Sachin Tendulkar (11), but no other batsman passed 20 as the innings subsided.
Bravo and Albie Morkel took two wickets apiece and Sri Lanka paceman Lasith Malinga's 17 was the next highest contribution from any of Mumbai's struggling batsmen.
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