South Africa T20 specialist Richard Levi made an instant impression with his six-hitting prowess as Mumbai Indians thrashed defending champions Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets,in the opening match of the fifth edition of Indian Premier League.
Chasing a modest target of 113,Levi who has recently scored the fastest T20 International century set the tone as he clobbered the CSK bowlers to race away to a fine 50 with six fours and three sixes on IPL debut.
He added 69 for the first wicket with Sachin Tendulkar before being caught in the deep but by then Mumbai Indians had the match in their pocket. They finally won with 19 balls to spare as he slashed Doug Bollinger over third-man for a six.
Predominantly an on-side player,all the three sixes Levi hit were in the arc between deep mid-wicket and long-on. Levi doesn’t have much of a backlift and footwork is minimum but that doesn’t deter him from hitting big shots although he mistimed a few today.
Tendulkar (16 retd hurt),despite playing second fiddle to Levi also entertained the crowd as he smashed Albie Morkel over extra cover for a huge six. But he got an ugly bouncer from Doug Bollinger which hit his gloves. The senior batsman then left the field as he seemed to have hurt a finger on his left hand.
Earlier,captain Harbhajan’s decision to bowl first seemed to be spot on as Mumbai Indians bowled out defending champions Chennai Super Kings for a paltry 112 in only 19.4 overs.
The newly-laid 22-yard strip which had some patches of grass on either side turned out to be a nightmare for strokeplayers as most of the home team batsmen failed to check their shots as they were bundled out for a negligible score.
While MI bowlers stuck to their task,CSK batsmen helped their cause as three of them including skipper Mahendra Singh
Dhoni were run-out. Lasith Malinga (2/16),Pragyan Ojha (2/17) and Kieron Pollard (2/15) all got vital breakthroughs.
Vijay,who has had an indifferent first-class season was not in his element as he failed to clear the field. As he was getting bogged down,left-arm seamer James Franklin’s clever change of pace did the trick.
The Tamil Nadu opener couldn’t connect what has been a trademark flicked six over deep mid-wicket over the years.
Instead,rival skipper Harbhajan standing at the 30-yard circle gobbled of an easy catch. Vijay could muster only 10 runs off 17 balls.
Suresh Raina — one of the biggest star in this format started well. Raina effortlessly lifted pacer Abu Nechim Ahmed over long-off for a six. He also hit a couple of boundaries on his way to 36 before Ojha sent him back into the dug-out.
As strokemaking looked difficult,Raina tried to give Ojha the charge but couldn’t get the elevation and was holed out in the sweeper-cover region where Lasith Malinga was stationed.
None of the batsmen barring Raina got going and when skipper Dhoni was run-out,the chance to put up a decent total was also over.