The elegant Suryakumar Yadav played one of his finest knocks on a challenging track as Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings by six wickets in Qualifier 1 at Chepauk on Tuesday to reach their fifth Indian Premier League final.
On a sluggish pitch, which offered considerable turn and odd bounce, Suryakumar batted in a copybook fashion scoring an unbeaten 71 off 54 balls as MI reached the target in 18.3 overs.
The defending champions will get another chance to make it to their eighth summit clash as they will now play Qualifer 2 against the winner of the Eliminator between Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, which takes place in Vizag on Wednesday.
The target of 132 wasn’t a big one but once the below-par Chepauk pitch was factored in, the chasing team had its own set of challenges.
With openers Rohit Sharma (4) and Quinton de Kock (8) dismissed in the powerplay, Suryakumar and Ishan Kishan (28 off 31 balls) traded their natural flair for caution adding 80 runs that set the platform. Suryakumar, who rode his luck courtesy sloppy catching by CSK, hit 10 fours in his innings and the normally aggressive Kishan had three fours and a six in his innings.
While Imran Tahir (2/33 in 4 overs) dismissed Kishan and Krunal Pandya (0) off successive deliveries in the 14th over, it was more a of minor scare as Suryakumar anchored the chase with ease in Hardik Pandya’s company. The best part about his batting was how late he played both Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja (0/18 in 4 overs) whenever they got the ball to turn away from the right-hander, playing it past the short third-man fielder.
The Mumbaikar did not take undue risks against Jadeja, who looked menacing on this track. When Tahir offered fligh, he would whip him through mid-wicket.
Deepak Chahar after getting Rohit’s wicket erred in line and proved to be costly. Harbhajan Singh (1/25 in 4 overs) finished his quota primarily when at least one left-hander was at the crease.
In the end, the difference was created by the three Mumbai Indians spinners Rahul Chahar (2/14 in 4 overs), Krunal Pandya (1/21 in 4 overs) and Jayant Yadav (1/25 in 3 overs), who gave away only 60 runs in the 11 overs between them taking four wickets.
CSK were at least 10 runs short of the par-score even on a challenging track.
Earlier, Dhoni did his best on a sluggish pitch but his partnership with Ambati Rayudu could not provided an explosive finish. Chennai Super Kings managed just 131/4, which was just about a fighting total in testing conditions.
The CSK total was built largely on a fifth wicket stand of 66 off 48 balls between Dhoni (37 no off 29 balls) and Rayudu (42 no off 37 balls) when other batsmen found going tough.
Dhoni smashed Lasith Malinga for two huge sixes in the penultimate over to provide impetus to the CSK innings, which was stymied by the MI bowlers, especially the spinners.
MI leg-spinner Rahul continued his impressive season, with a superb spell, keeping the batsmen on a leash with turn and bounce.
CSK didn’t get off to a good start, losing three wickets in the powerplay, as MI skipper Rohit Sharma used five different bowlers in the first five overs. The visiting team kept things under control restricting CSK to 32 runs while picking up three wickets in the first six overs.
At the halfway stage, CSK barely managed to reach 50, which was a sign of their struggles. Dhoni and Rayudu’s effort briefly raised hopes of the local crowd but Mumbai Indians were clinical to record their third win against CSK this season in three matches.
What the captains had to say
CSK captain, MS Dhoni: “Well, somebody has to lose. It did not go our way, at least the batting. The batsmen should have assessed the conditions. We did not put up a score good enough to defend. [Batsmen] these are the best we have got, they have been on and off. When you have experienced players in the side, that is what you want from them. We tried everything, few catches were put down. I think we could have bowled better. But when you are defending 130 every boundary hurts. It’s bad that we had a off day this late in the tournament. It’s a good thing to finish in top two, now we have one more shot.”
MI captain, Rohit Sharma: “Great effort, great feeling to be in the final. Three days we can switch off then think about the final. Wasn’t too concerned with the toss, was confident in our bowlers and batsmen to do the job. Bowling unite came together really nicely, exploited the conditions really well. It was a call we had to make [to bring in Jayant Yadav] as a finger spinner is useful on this sort of wicket. We had clear plans and we knew how to execute, credit to the bowlers. [Suryakumar] is probably the best batsman in our lineup against spinners. I have seen him in close quarters, he knows how to use the pace and is quite aware of what he wants to do.”