x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

MS Dhoni provides finishing touches in Chennai win over Mumbai

Dwayne Smith’s 51-ball 57 against his old side coupled with MS Dhoni’s masterful finishing skills, helped Chennai win by four wickets with three balls to spare and keep pace with Punjab at the top of the Indian Premier League table.

MS Dhoni of Chennai Super Kings provided another closing touch on Saturday night as his team won by four wickets and ended Mumbai’s home win streak at 10 games. Ravindranath K / The National
MS Dhoni of Chennai Super Kings provided another closing touch on Saturday night as his team won by four wickets and ended Mumbai’s home win streak at 10 games. Ravindranath K / The National

Over the past week, a return to the comforts of home helped the Mumbai Indians breathe life into what had been a poor defence of their Indian Premier League crown. They secured impressive victories against Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore, but their biggest challenge was always going to be how they coped with the Chennai Super Kings, and on that count, they failed on Saturday night at the Wankhede Stadium.

Ambati Rayudu’s 43-ball 59 and some impressive bowling gave Mumbai a sniff at victory, as they resisted Chennai as far as the last over. But Dwayne Smith’s 51-ball 57 against his old side coupled with MS Dhoni’s masterful finishing skills, helped Chennai win by four wickets with three balls to spare and keep pace with Punjab at the top of the table.

It was Mumbai’s first defeat at the Wankhede after a run of 10 consecutive wins, including an unbeaten 2013 season.

Having been put in to bat by Dhoni, Mumbai were restricted to 157 for six after a mini-implosion dented their plans of accelerating. Ambati Rayudu, who was dropped twice during his innings, had set Mumbai up, but Ravi Ashwin returned strongly after his mauling by Glenn Maxwell earlier this week to take three for 30 – two of those wickets coming at the death.

Mumbai needed an immense effort to defend that total against Chennai’s firepower. Chennai finished at 160 for six in 19.3 overs.

Chennai started out shakily, as Praveen Kumar put in a fine exhibition of swing bowling. He troubled Smith with his inswingers, but it was Brendon McCullum’s dismissal he celebrated. He rapped the New Zealander on the front pad, and though the ball seemed to be going down the legside, the umpire raised his finger. Then, Suresh Raina, dropped on five by Apoorv Wankhede, was stumped off a Kieron Pollard wide by CM Gautam and Chennai were 56 for two.

Raina’s wicket lent Mumbai a slight advantage, but in Smith and Faf du Plessis, Chennai had match-winners in the middle. Smith, in fact, had been subdued till the 10th over, but with Pollard running in to bowl, he decided to break the shackles. At the beginning of the over, he had 22 off 28 balls. Two fours and a massive six later, he had 36 off 32 and the momentum had shifted.

He went on to complete a half-century, but in looking to wrap up the chase, Smith holed out off Praveen. Du Plessis was then bowled through the gate by Lasith Malinga, who also had Ravindra Jadeja dismissed in his next over – the 19th of the innings – with tension rising. But Dhoni, in typical fashion, completed another chase with two consecutive boundaries off Pollard in the final over.

Mumbai’s innings had got off to a shaky start. Gautam was dismissed early on and there were periods when Chennai bowled incisively, forcing Rayudu and Lendl Simmons to face the onslaught with a mixture of luck and enterprise. There were swings and misses, fortunate run-out escapes and misfields from Chennai, but, importantly, Mumbai survived to cross the 50-run mark in the ninth over.

On another day, Chennai could have rued the misfields. Looking to attack, Mumbai then lost several wickets in the space of five balls. Rohit fell to Ashwin attempting to accelerate, Pollard was dismissed for a golden duck, and Rayudu holed out off Mohit Sharma.

Corey Anderson then took charge, hitting Ishwar Pandey for two sixes in the final over to pick 18 runs, but it was not enough.

Manoj Narayan is a subeditor with Wisden India. Visit wisdenindia.com for more on the IPL.

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