Mumbai Indians’ new signings, Pragyan Ojha and Richard Levi, made immediate impact to set up an easy win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the season opener. Richard Levi swiped his way to a 35-ball 50 in an easy chase, but it was Ojha who made the crucial contribution. He made a seamless transition from Deccan Chargers to Mumbai, taking two wickets in his first two overs to pull Super Kings just when they were threatening to break free.
Super Kings were 69 for 2, having made a bit of a comeback from a slow start, when Ojha was introduced in the 10th over, and three wickets in the next four overs – including those of danger men Suresh Raina and Dwayne Bravo – meant they could add only 43 in the rest of the piece. Kieron Pollard was a good deputy to Ojha, taking two wickets after the spinner had dismissed the settled batsmen.
Ojha’s introduction was a pivotal moment in the game. Put in on a surprisingly green Chennai pitch – definitely not one that will impress IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla – Super Kings were just coming out of a period of struggle then. One of their big strikers, M Vijay, had taken six balls to get off the mark, and his anxiousness to do so had resulted in the run-out of fellow opener Faff du Plessis. Soon he himself fell to a slower ball from James Franklin.
At the other end, though, Raina enjoyed his homecoming to the tournament he revels most in, starting things off with a six over mid-off, the first of the tournament. Bravo joined in with two beautiful shots on the up off the bowling off Franklin, putting the pressure back on Mumbai. Both the batsmen were now confident enough to take risks off Ojha’s bowling. Raina swept the first ball powerfully, Bravo slogged at the second, and drove the next inside-out for four. That was to be the last boundary of the innings.
Ojha refused to give them pace or flatness, and Raina, 36 off 26, picked out sweeper-cover off the fifth ball Ojha bowled. In Ojha’s next, Bravo found long-on with similar precision to fall for a run-a-ball 19. Ojha couldn’t be kept out of the game. He soon caught the promoted Albie Morkel off the varied bowling off Pollard. In Ojha’s last over, the 16th, MS Dhoni fell for a rare non-direct-hit run-out. It must have been some pressure of suffocation at work. Ojha finished with 2 for 17 in his four, and Pollard dismissed S Badrinath in his last to finish with figures of 2 for 15.
At 99 for 7 in the 17th over, with two Lasith Malinga overs left, no one would have expected an addition of many more than the eventual 13. The beefy Levi then charged out in the chase, swinging the shoulders, mostly to leg, hitting sixes off Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo. The pitch remained lively: Doug Bolinger hit both Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar with uneven bounce, forcing the latter to retire-hurt. Levi’s explosive start, though, had done enough, and Mumbai cruised through with 3.1 overs to spare.
Indian Premier League – 1st match
Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians
Mumbai Indians won by 8 wickets (with 19 balls remaining)
- Twenty20 match | 2012 season
- Played at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai
- 4 April 2012 – day/night (20-over match)
|Chennai Super Kings innings (20 overs maximum)||R||B||4s||6s||SR|
|F du Plessis||run out (Rayudu)||3||2||0||0||150.00|
|M Vijay||c Harbhajan Singh b Franklin||10||17||1||0||58.82|
|SK Raina||c Malinga b Ojha||36||26||2||1||138.46|
|DJ Bravo||c Pollard b Ojha||19||19||3||0||100.00|
|JA Morkel||c Ojha b Pollard||3||8||0||0||37.50|
|S Badrinath||c Harbhajan Singh b Pollard||10||16||0||0||62.50|
|MS Dhoni*†||run out (Ahmed/†Karthik)||4||6||0||0||66.66|
|RA Jadeja||b Malinga||3||5||0||0||60.00|
|R Ashwin||run out (Harbhajan Singh/†Karthik)||3||5||0||0||60.00|
|SB Jakati||not out||6||10||0||0||60.00|
|DE Bollinger||c Sharma b Malinga||3||5||0||0||60.00|
|Extras||(lb 5, w 7)||12|
|Total||(all out; 19.5 overs)||112||(5.64 runs per over)|
|Fall of wickets 1-4 (du Plessis, 0.4 ov), 2-38 (Vijay, 5.5 ov), 3-75 (Raina, 9.5 ov), 4-80 (Bravo, 11.2 ov), 5-85 (Morkel, 12.4 ov), 6-95 (Dhoni, 15.1 ov), 7-99 (Badrinath, 16.1 ov), 8-103 (Ashwin, 17.1 ov), 9-104 (Jadeja, 17.6 ov), 10-112 (Bollinger, 19.5 ov)|
|Mumbai Indians innings (target: 113 runs from 20 overs)||R||B||4s||6s||SR|
|RE Levi||c Bollinger b Bravo||50||35||6||3||142.85|
|SR Tendulkar||retired hurt||16||15||1||1||106.66|
|RG Sharma||c †Dhoni b Bollinger||0||3||0||0||0.00|
|AT Rayudu||not out||18||18||0||1||100.00|
|JEC Franklin||not out||25||30||2||0||83.33|
|Extras||(lb 3, w 3)||6|
|Total||(2 wickets; 16.5 overs)||115||(6.83 runs per over)|
|Did not bat KD Karthik†, KA Pollard, Harbhajan Singh*, SL Malinga, AN Ahmed, PP Ojha|
|Fall of wickets 1-69 (Levi, 7.5 ov), 2-70 (Sharma, 8.3 ov), 2-72* (Tendulkar, retired not out)|
|Toss Mumbai Indians, who chose to field
Points Mumbai Indians 2, Chennai Super Kings 0
|Player of the match RE Levi (Mumbai Indians)|
|Umpires JD Cloete (South Africa) and SJA Taufel (Australia)
TV umpire S Ravi
Match referee RS Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
Reserve umpire K Srinath
A year ago, the hangover of the World Cup had barely ended before another exhausting tournament started. Fans dehydrated by the emotions of India’s World Cup victory were now expected to show up in those numbers for the IPL. The fans and players had one thing in common – both were knackered. The scenario this year is not entirely different. India’s horrific season must have drained them mentally. Their followers are tired of defeat. The next two months will reveal the fans’ true faith in their own players.
Indian cricket has come a full circle in a year, and the man at the epicentre is MS Dhoni, who’s back to leading Chennai Super Kings tomorrow in the IPL opener against Mumbai Indians. Public memory is short, and all it could take is a few victories for his fans to restore their faith. The reshuffling of squads last year didn’t affect the defending champions Super Kings. They thrived on a power-packed batting line-up, backed by a competent spin attack. They spent their auction purse in getting hold of a spinning-allrounder in Ravindra Jadeja. Dhoni, unfortunately, found himself shouldering too much burden as India captain, which affected his performances. If Super Kings are to succeed again, this squad, with varying degrees of experience, need to rally around him.
His Mumbai counterpart, Harbhajan Singh, was largely disconnected from India’s plunge because he was dealing with a slump of his own. Poor form and injury kept him on the sidelines, but he regained pride by leading Mumbai to the Champions League title last year. He finds himself in the same role this year, after Sachin Tendulkar decided to step down as captain. Mumbai may be missing Andrew Symonds, but the squad’s intimidating enough without him. It’s fitting that the defending champions are taking on the team to beat in the opener.
Mumbai are lucky to have their entire international contingent available for the season. Super Kings have a couple of injury concerns, but the core of their squad – barring Michael Hussey who is to join at the end of the month – is available.
Players to watch
Since his 95 in the IPL final last year (and 434 for the tournament), M Vijay has had a quiet 11 months. He underperformed in the West Indies and found himself out of contention. He had his moments of success during the domestic season, but this IPL will again be crucial towards making a return to the national side, at least when it comes to auditioning for the World Twenty20. Another chance beckons for the opening batsman.
Harbhajan Singh is another player who could use this tournament as an opportunity to make a comeback. The criticism was that he had become a defensive bowler, bowling flatter lengths which weren’t fetching him enough wickets. His domestic season wasn’t good enough to force a return either. R Ashwin’s mixed returns in Australia should improve Harbhajan’s chances. But Harbhajan will know that he will be up against the likes of Pragyan Ojha and Rahul Sharma, at least in the limited-overs formats. He needs wickets, and plenty of them.
Mumbai and Super Kings played each other just once last year. Rohit Sharma’s 87 off 48 balls took Mumbai to 164. Super Kings were well-placed at 98 for 2 in the 12th over, but Harbhajan inflicted a collapse, taking five wickets to give Mumbai an eight-run win. S Badrinath was the last-man standing with 71.
Stats and trivia
Super Kings’ overall win-loss ratio across four seasons (1.54) is comfortably ahead of second-placed Mumbai, who have a corresponding value of 1.26.
Chepauk, traditionally a high-scoring venue, experienced a drop in the run-rate in 2011 to 7.86. The rate was above 8 in the first and third IPL seasons.
Mumbai and Super Kings have played eight games against each other and the head-to-head record is locked at 4-4.
“If you notice we have done exceedingly well when the pitch has been responsive with good bounce. So for us one of the first things to check will be the bounce of the pitch.”
Super Kings’ R Ashwin on the relaid pitch at Chepauk
“My body is shaping up well; I am very much in the rhythm. I have been playing a lot of domestic T20 games, so yes I am very positive about it.”
RP Singh, Mumbai’s latest recruit
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