Well-begun may be half done, but perhaps the real adage of IPL 8 should be: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again. You only have to look at Mumbai Indians’ incredible transformation to know which of the two to pass on to your kids.

Mumbai Indians were crowned the champions of IPL 8 on Sunday night at the Eden Gardens after a dominating performance over their opponents, the redoubtable Chennai Super Kings, that left nothing to the imagination in terms of scripting comeback blockbusters.

The pressure of playing a final seemed irrelevant to these men in blue. The toss didn’t go their way, but it didn’t unnerve them. Barring the first over, they were in complete control of the proceedings in both halves of the match.

Rohit Sharma’s team had, of course, learnt their lessons by now. They lost their opening batsman, Parthiv Patel in the very first over, but they didn’t panic. After all, they were used to bad starts. They exhibited fearlessness, resorting to the risky option of counter-attacking the opposition bowlers. It worked on the big night.

Mumbai’s magnificent top order

Worthy contributions from the top order batsmen have been the key to Mumbai Indian’s success this season. The top order once again lived up to the expectations they have set for themselves. Lendl Simmons and Sharma were at their attacking best. The pair batted with nonchalance to score a boundary or two every over. And before anyone knew it, Mumbai Indians had reached a score of 61 in the first six overs.

Sharma’s dream run at the Eden Gardens continued as he scored an aggressive half century in just 26 balls. Not a single one of MS Dhoni’s bowlers had an answer to the MI onslaught.  Sure, at the point they dismissed the well-set batsmen, Simmons and Sharma, off successive deliveries, the men in yellow did get a tiny window of opportunity.

Mumbai’s mighty middle

But the middle order made sure that the party would not be spoilt. They simply continued from where Simmons and Sharma had left off.  Kieron Pollard was at his brutal best. With three sixes and two boundaries, he added 36 runs to the total at a highly impressive strike rate of 200.

At the break, the Mumbai Indians scorecard read 202-5. And they almos knew it was just an hour and a half now between them and the trophy.

Listless chase

It looked like Chennai Super Kings had already decided not to try chasing down the target. Their approach looked half-hearted. A score of 31-1 at the end of six overs should tell its own story.

Michael Hussey struggled to put bat to ball. At the other end, Dwayne Smith wasn’t doing any better. If not for the occasional boundaries, he would have looked even more anxious during his sojourn at the crease.

The Mumbai bowlers exposed his inability to score when under pressure. The new ball trio of Lasith Malinga, Mitchell McClenaghan and Vinay Kumar executed their plans to perfection. They deceived the CSK batsmen on numerous occasions with a text-book opening spell.

No Raina magic

Suresh Raina, who came in at number three, couldn’t do much after the required run-rate went up. For the first time in eight editions, Raina hasn’t been able to score more than 400 runs. His dismal performance  in this year’s IPL has indeed affected the Super Kings.

On the contrary, Harbhajan Singh once again proved to be the game-changing bowler for the Mumbai Indians. The turbanator dented CSK’s chase by getting the wickets of CSK’s primary run getters, Raina and Smith.

The target of 203 looked Herculean for CSK’s middle-order, which in any case has struggled throughout the season. And where was Dhoni, the master finisher?

It is evident from Dhoni’s recent batting performances that he is no more the executioner of the opponent’s hopes that he once used to be. Is he out of form or is he past his prime? On Sunday night, Dhoni didn’t even make an attempt to take the battle to the opposition. The Mumbai Indians knew that his wicket was coming, which it did after a worthless 18 off 13 balls.

Sachin-Hayden selfie

What does the TV channel beaming the tounament live do when a much-awaited final becomes a one-sided affair so early on? The cameras were more eager to show how a selfie of Sachin Tendulkar and Matthew Hayden had panned out than follow the on-field action. (It wasn’t a bad selfie.)

Chennai Super Kings are to be squarely blamed for Sunday night’s dull contest. They never showed intent. Their bowlers let the team down after Dhoni won the toss and put the opponents in in, perhaps, a bid to engineer the kind of low-scoring match that Chennai seem to excel in. That didn’t work. And then the CSK batsmen didn’t seem to want to repair the damage. They took the path treaded by their bowlers.

Frankly, for all Dhoni’s leadership skills, Chennai Super Kings weren’t the front-runners for the title. They hadn’t played consistent cricket. A patchy tournament  ended with an agonising, if preditable, defeat at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

On the other hand, the Mumbai Indians had reserved their best for the last game. It was almost a repeat of their final victory over the men in yellow in 2013. It has been wonderful to see individuals, predominantly youngsters, in the MI team stepping up their game. And the spirit shown in clawing back from a bad, bad start to win the IPL 8 was fantastic.

Mumbai’s coaching staff seemed to have made a great impact in reversing their fortunes. Dare we say Ricky Ponting may have had something to do with making the Mumbai Indians fearless?