The first qualifier between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium at Delhi was pretty much decided on one partnership, and a massive one at that, between Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina, two stalwarts of the Chennai outfit. Once the left-handed duo featured in the brilliant partnership, Chennai always held the upper hand. Mumbai, on the other hand, found it extremely difficult to recover from the Raina-Hussey onslaught. They began their chase in a confident manner, but the pressure of chasing a big score eventually got to them.
While Hussey and Raina have been two of the most consistent batsmen for Chennai over the years, the best facet of their run-making has been that they have come up with big scores in major matches. The case was no different on Tuesday and, hence it was not surprising that Chennai made it to yet another IPL final. Right from the start, Chennai were dominant in the game. Although Murali Vijay did not come up with a big score again, his quick cameo, and his partnership with Hussey, saw to it that Chennai were off to bright start.
Once Vijay was dismissed, it was all about the Hussey-Raina show. What both did brilliantly during the partnership was not to let any of the bowlers get into any sort of rhythm. They batted with a great sense of purpose, and the kind of confidence that can emanate only from vast experience and success under similar situations in the past. Both Raina and Hussey found the boundaries with ease, a stat which can be justified from their figures. Raina had five fours and five sixes to his credit even as Hussey cracked 10 fours and two sixes.
Even as Raina and Hussey were superb, Mumbai’s bowlers were equally disappointing. They clearly faltered under the pressure exerted by the Chennai duo and bowled some poor stuff. A lot was expected of Mitchell Johnson, who has been the star performer with the ball for Mumbai this season, but failed to make any sort of impact. Lasith Malinga is another who could have made a difference, but this season he hasn’t been at his best, and Chennai took full advantage of the same. Munaf Patel and Pragyan Ojha were erratic and even though Harbhajan Singh was economical, he wasn’t threatening.
The only way Mumbai could have given Chennai a close run was if a couple of the batsmen gave back similar treatment to Chennai’s bowlers that they were meted out with. One man, who has impressed many, did stand up for Mumbai. Dwayne Smith played some exhilarating strokes during his smashing innings. However, he alone couldn’t pull it off, and this is where Mumbai fell away from Chennai, way behind in fact. Only three other batsmen got into double figures for Mumbai, which told the story of the team’s struggle. The bowlers had it rather easy in the end.
Turning point of the game: Vijay’s dismissal, which brought Hussey and Raina together.
--By A Cricket Analyst