By Aritra Chowdhury
A timely half-century by opener Lendl Simmons and some quality bowling helped Mumbai Indians secure a place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 final with a 25-run victory over Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium here.
Simmons rose to the occasion as he scored 65 off 51 balls, which was followed by Kieron Pollard’s 17-ball 41 that helped Mumbai post a challenging 187/6.
In reply, Chennai lost wickets at regular intervals and were all out for 162 in 19 overs.
With this win, Mumbai entered the tournament’s final which will be played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 24.
Chennai will get a second chance to make it to the final. They will face the winner of the eliminator to be played on Wednesday between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, in the second qualifier in Ranchi on May 22.
Lasith Malinga (3/23), Harbhajan Singh (2/26) and R. Vinay Kumar (2/26) were the pick of the Mumbai bowlers.
Chasing 188 to win, CSK got off to the worst possible start losing opener Dwayne Smith without scoring off the fourth ball of the first over.
A full toss from pacer Lasith Malinga hit straight into Smith’s front pad which made it easy for the umpire to give the batsman out.
Incoming batsman Faf du Plessis looked in fine form right from the start. The South African along with opener Michael Hussey didn’t let the early wicket affect their scoring. With a couple of boundaries and sixes, CSK reached 46 in 5 overs.
But the very first ball of the sixth over brought the brakes in Chennai’s scoring as bowler Vinay Kumar got the vital wicket of Hussey (16). CSK were 46/2 in 5.1 overs then.
Suresh Raina and du Plessis took it from there to help the team reach a score of 86/2 in 10 overs.
But the over that followed saw the match swinging in the home side’s favour as Harbhajan Singh got rid of Raina (25) and skipper M.S. Dhoni (0) in successive deliveries to help Mumbai stay in the hunt.
Mumbai bowlers kept the bowling tight, making it difficult for the visitors to score.
Set batsman du Plessis (45 off 34 balls), looking to up the scoring rate, departed in the 14th over off the bowling of Jagadeesha Suchith.
It wasn’t over yet. Dwayne Bravo (20), Ravindra Jadeja (19), Pawan Negi (3) all fell thereafter.
Earlier, opting to bat, Mumbai got off to a modest start with openers Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel taking their time to get settled in the first four overs, scoring just 22.
Simmons broke the shackles in the fifth over as spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was hit for two sixes. Thirteen runs were scored of the over.
The over of Ashwin set the momentum for the home side as both the openers kept on striking the ball sweetly to all parts of the park thus bringing up the team’s 50 in 6.2 overs.
Simmons, who is Mumbai’s leading run-scorer in the ongoing season, once again proved his worth as he made a mockery of the bowling, thus bringing up his half-century off just 38 balls.
The West Indian also became the third batsman after Sachin Tendulkar and J.P. Duminy to score five half-centuries in an IPL season for Mumbai.
A bowling change by skipper M.S. Dhoni worked wonders for CSK as Dwayne Bravo got Parthiv (35) caught at long off. Mumbai’s score was 90/1 in 10.4 overs.
Simmons (65; 51b, 3×4, 5×6) who was looking good for a big score fell soon after in the 14th over off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja.
Incoming batsmen, skipper Rohit Sharma (19), Hardik Pandya (1), Ambati Rayudu (10) too went back to the pavilion in space of four overs.
Kieron Pollard (41; 17b, 1×4, 5×6) chipped in with a late cameo to help Mumbai reach a challenging score.