Eye opener

MI thrash defending champions Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets in the first match

Written by G.S. Vivek | Chennai | Published: April 5, 2012 12:44 am

One man was making his IPL debut,the other was playing his first game for Mumbai Indians. But both Richard Levi and Pragyan Ojha didn’t take much time to feel at home in the new environment around them. Levi smashed a 35-ball 50 to see MI coast to an easy 8-wicket win after Ojha’s spell of 4-0-17-2 went a long way in restricting fancied Chennai Super Kings to a modest total of 112.

While MI’s new signings thrived,Chennai’s latest acquisition Ravindra Jadeja scored just 3 runs from 5 balls and bowled just one over that cost 16 runs. And after the game it wasn’t surprising that the talking point among those wearing yellow in the stands was about Jadeja’s $2 million price tag.

Chepauk has been the Super Kings’ happy hunting ground. They have lost just one game here since April 15,2010. But the start to IPL 5 hasn’t gone according to the script for the team chasing their third straight title. The manner of their capitulation must have triggered panic in the champion team’s camp. On the other hand,Mumbai can now fancy themselves as one of the firm favourites for the title.

Chennai’s problems started from the time Harbhajan called the coin correctly. Faf du Plessis was run out in the first over itself. Two other batting mainstays — Murali Vijay and S Badrinath — looked woefully out of touch. Eventually,Chennai neither managed to keep the wickets intact nor step the scoring rate up. There were a few sporadic attempts from Suresh Raina and Dwyane Bravo to accelerate but the home team’s batting collapsed against some disciplined bowling from Pragyan Ojha,Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga.

Three run outs — of du Plessis,Dhoni and Ashwin — meant Chennai neither managed to grab a great start or consolidate in the middle overs. Ojha was the main reason why Mumbai were able to clinically dismantle the Chennai middle-order. The left-arm spinner restricted the batsmen by bowling to his field. Ojha picked up the crucial wickets of Raina and Bravo,spotting their intentions early and increasing the pace of his deliveries.

Pollard gave him excellent support,and even banged in a few short balls on the fresh Chepauk track. Pollard finished with 4-0-15-2. Malinga came in towards the end to better both,with a spell of 3.5-0-16-2.

Chennai were ineffective with the ball too. Levi went hammer and tongs in the powerplay and Sachin Tendulkar too joined in as he stepped out to Albie Morkel for a six over wide mid-off. Levi showed he could sweep and slog perfectly,smashing Ashwin and Jakati over the mid-wicket fence. Levi was eventually out for an entertaining 50 with six boundaries and three sixes — the last to bring up his maiden half-century. Rohit Sharma walked in at No.3 to last merely three balls,leaving reluctantly without scoring and soon Tendulkar walked away at the first timeout break with a sore finger. Ambati Rayadu and James Franklin finished the game with 3.1 overs to spare.

Rusty start,admits Dhoni

Chennai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni said it was his team’s rustiness that saw them lose their opening IPL game. “It is not a typical Chennai wicket. We started well but we didn’t do well in the last overs,so it was a rusty start for the tournament. We did well though with the bowling,” Dhoni said after the match.

Asked what could have been a winning score,Dhoni said: “It is difficult to judge seeing how they chase. If we would have scored 150-160,their approach would have been different. But if you ask me,may be I would have thought 140-145 odd runs would have been difficult.

“I felt it was better to bat when we batted and there was something for fast bowlers as well later on but (Richard) Levi batted very well,” Dhoni said.

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