Before the match began, someone joked that Chennai Super Kings skipper would want to lose his match against the Mumbai Indians to give him the opportunity to win the eliminator in his hometown, Ranchi. As it turns out, Dhoni’s team did badly to lose Tuesday’s qualifiers to a resurrected Mumbai Indians. On the other hand, Mumbai Indians was propelled to the finals by Lendl Simmons and Kieron Pollard coming good with the bat, and Harbhajan Singh’s twin strike during the second innings.

In a match in which the Chennai Super Kings were reckoned to be the favourites, Mumbai Indians won it easily on their backyard. Chennai are known to up their game in a knockout situation, so Mumbai might have to repeat their feat against Eden Gardens.  For now, here are the hits and misses of Tuesday’s Qualifier 1.


Lendl Simmons’ blistering start
After Dhoni decided to chase on an excellent batting track at the Wankhede, Lendl Simmons laid the perfect platform for the Mumbai middle order. Simmons took his time to settle in. Dhoni’s ploy to get an early wicket by opting to open with Ravichandran Ashwin was thwarted by Simmons and Parthiv Patel. Neither played any rash shots and took their time to settle. By the end of fourth over, Simmons had taken most of the strike. When Ashwin bowled the next (also his third consecutive) over, Simmons was ready to take him on. He thwacked the off-spinner for two sixes. From then on, Simmons was in absolute control. He scored 65 off 51 balls, during which he bludgeoned five deliveries over the fence.

Kieron Pollard’s birthday gift to his mom
Since he arrived at Mumbai Indians, Pollard has been their trump card. Whenever Pollard was at his best, Mumbai has managed to win most of their matches. And unfortunately for CSK, Tuesday was one of those days. They had managed to keep the scoring rate under check after dismissing the openers by the thirteenth over. Then came Pollard. He saw. He conquered. Unlike Simmons, Pollard did not require any time to settle. The second ball he faced disappeared beyond the cow corner, with him just flicking the wrists. Two balls later, the ball went over long on. Out of the 17 deliveries he faced, he put five over the boundary. The most spectacular one was his six off Mohit Sharma. It was a slower ball (just over 100 kmph) bowled wide out side off stump. It was not a great delivery. But one would need immense power to hit a ball that slow for a six. And, Pollard thwacked it beyond wide long on! The‘Man of the Match, on his mother’s birthday, scored a 17-ball 41.

Harbhajan Singh’s twin strikes
Cometh the hour, cometh Harbhajan . There have been numerous occasions when Harbhajan picks the crucial wickets at the crucial times. Tuesday could be added to that list. Going by statistics, Malinga was the best bowler for Mumbai but statistics don't always convey the whole picture. He has been impressive throughout the tournament, bowling with an aggressive mindset. After giving away 20 runs in his first two overs, without any wickets, Bhajji was given another over ‒ the eleventh one of the match. CSK, at that stage were progressing steadily at 86/2. Raina looked like he was going to win another crucial match for Chennai. Bhajji removed him with a harmless delivery that was pitched on the middle stump line. Next ball, he dismissed Dhoni with a similar delivery, which exposed the lower order early in the match.


Dhoni fails ‒ yet again
It seems like ages since Dhoni has played his characteristic role of a saviour. There was a time when Dhoni would arrive at a hopeless situation; settle in; and then unleash like a natural disaster on his opponents. The regularity of such innings was astonishing. His presence gave his fans the illusion of reassurance. “It is not over until Dhoni gets out,” they believed. And "it was over" on Tuesday when he got out for a first-ball duck. We are used to Dhoni churning out one match-saving innings after another that it has become uncomfortable for us to digest his failure. CSK fans wanted to believe that their skipper would bounce back to form sooner than later.

Dwayne Smith’s extended poor run
Dwayne Smith, of late, has been struggling at the top.  He has scored three ducks in his last nine innings. And he has failed to go beyond 30 in as many innings. He is probably feeling the insecurity that every batsmen face when they are out of form. On most occasions, all they need is one good innings to make them be sure about their batting again. With 188 runs to win and with a new partner in the crease, Smith had a great opportunity to play such a knock. But umpire Ray Illingworth did not let Smith do that. The fourth ball of the first over bowled by Malinga in the second innings was a dipping full-toss that struck Smith outside the leg-stump. Poor Illingworth did not see that. And poor Smith got another duck in this IPL. With Brendon McCullum leaving the team because of national duties, it is hard to find a replacement. So, the team management would be hoping for him to get a big one in the next match.

Negi getting thrashed
Pawan Negi has been one of the best young finds of this year’s IPL. The 22-year-old’s unconventional slinging action and tighter lines have made it difficult for most batsmen to attack him. Negi, in this year’s IPL, has sometimes performed better than his senior spin colleagues Mumbai Indians (187/6) beat Chennai Super Kings (162/10) by 25 runs ‒  Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin. But as a spinner, it is not just about where you bowl; it is also about how you bowl. Negi’s deliveries, like many young spinners today, does not flight the ball up and hence reduces the chances of getting a wicket. On a track that did not offer any turn, Negi kept bowling short and wide and he paid the price for it. He is an intelligent spinner who needs to fine-tune his technique. With little guidance, Negi could prove effective in the knockout game(s) that are coming up.

Mumbai Indians (187/6) beat Chennai Super Kings (162/10) by 25 runs.