Mumbai Indians rode on Dwayne Smith’s quick-fire half-century and his 90-run opening-wicket partnership with Sachin Tendulkar to book a final berth in the Champions League Twenty20 with a six-wicket win over Trinidad and Tobago.
They will play Rajasthan Royals in the title clash in New Delhi on Sunday.
Chasing 154 to win,Smith fired a 38-ball 59 while Tendulkar played a fine cameo of a 31-ball 35,which also saw the batting great complete 50,000 runs in all forms of cricket,helping Mumbai finish at 157 for four and make their second summit clash appearance in the short history of the tournament.
Mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine tried to make things difficult for MI with his three-wicket burst but he did not get enough support from the other bowlers.
If the first half of the semi-final belonged to Trinidad opener Evin Lewis,who hit an attacking 46-ball 62 to help the Caribbean side post a competitive 153 after being sent in to bat,the limelight shifted to Smith and Tendulkar in the second half as they put Mumbai on track from the outset.
Mumbai started off on an attacking note with Smith and Tendulkar carting the T&T bowlers all around the park. It was Smith who set the ball rolling with two fours off pacer Ravi Rampaul before Tendulkar took centrestage with two successive sixes off left-arm spinner Yannick Ottley in the sixth over.
Tendulkar,in the process,also completed his 50,000 runs in all recognised forms of cricket when he reached an individual score of 26. Tendulkar raised his bat after reaching the milestone and acknowledged the loyal crowd as a packed Kotla stadium gave the batting great a standing ovation.
Skipper Rohit Sharma and coach John Wright had said before the match that Tendulkar loves to deliver a match-winning knock on big occasions and the batting legend,playing in his last Champions League,did just that.
The big-hitting Smith treated the T&T bowlers with utter disdain. It rained fours and sixes as Smith raced to his fifty in just 33 balls with a flat six off Lendl Simmons.
Just when it looked like Mumbai would post an easy victory over their Caribbean rivals,Simmons brought a tame end to Tendulkar¿s innings with a thick outside edge to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.
Narine again came to the rescue of his team and picked up two quick wickets in his second over to peg Mumbai back.
Amabti Rayudud became Narine’s first victim when he tried to sharply cut the ball on the off side only to get a thick outside edge.
Smith was the next casualty as his attempt to sweep across the line only resulted in his off-stump being uprooted.
Smith’s 38-ball knock was laced with two sixes and seven fours. From 90 for one,it became 96 for three,but Sharma (25) and Dinesh Karthik (33 not out) played responsible knocks to take their side closer to the target.
Karthik provided a fitting end to the game with a six over extra cover off Simmons.
Earlier,Lewis hit a quick-fire half century while Yannick Ottley struck a fine unbeaten 41 as Trinidad and Tobago posted a competitive 153 for five. Lewis struck a 46-ball 62,innings that was studded with four sixes and six fours,while Ottley’s 30-ball 41 was decorated with two sixes and an equal number of fours.
MI bowlers did well in the middle part of the innings to pull things back after Lewis’ knock threatened to take the game away from the former champions.
The pace and spin duo of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pragyan Ojha bowled well in tandem and shared seven overs between them while picking up two wickets,which somewhat allowed MI to make a comeback.
Trinidad got off to a poor start as they lost their opener and last match’s hero Lendl Simmons for nought in just the second over of the innings.
Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma’s ploy to introduce Harbhajan Singh early into the attack paid dividends as the off-spinner flummoxed the big-hitting Simmons with a tossed-up delivery.
Simmons was caught at deep mid-wicket by Dwayne Smith,who took a well-judged catch at the edge of the boundary.
However,the loss of Simmons did not put the brakes on T&T’s scoring rate as Lewis and Darren Bravo went about their business in style.
Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson managed to extract some bounce off the slow Kotla track but was taken to task by Lewis whenever he erred in length.
Lewis clobbered Johnson for four fours and a six over third-man fielder in his opening spell of two overs.
Lewis was in ominous form as neither spin nor speed proved a deterrent for him and his attacking instinct served the team well. He welcomed back Harbhajan for his return spell,clobbering biggies that cleared the ropes by some distance.
With T&T fast running away with the game,Sharma introduced left-arm spinner Ojha into the attack. Ojha justified the move as he got Bravo stumped by Dinesh Karthik off his very first delivery for 14.
Lewis,in the process,brought up his half-century with a four off Harbhajan,who finished with figures of one for 35.
Lewis,however,did not last long after completing his fifty and was caught and bowled by Kieron Pollard in the 14th over.
T&T reached the 100-run mark in the 14th over as the spin-pace duo of Ojha and Coulter-Nile slowed down the run rate with their economical spells in the middle overs.
Johnson returned to bowl a fiery second spell that saw him uproot the off-stump of T&T skipper Denesh Ramdin for nine.
A few hits towards the end by Ottley helped shore up the innings.