Mumbai Indians have beaten Chennai Super Kings on their homeground and entered into the IPL final. The latest chapter in Mumbai's psychological stranglehold over Super Kings came via a comfortable six-wicket win on a pitch affording sharp turn throughout. Both teams went in with three spinners - a legspinner, and offspinner and a left-arm orthodox spinner each - and Mumbai's trio outperformed Super Kings' on the day. While the pitch wasn't straightforward to bat on, 131 seemed a below-par total considering Super Kings only lost four wickets, and an unbeaten 71 from Suryakumar Yadav steered Mumbai home with nine balls remaining.
Super Kings' Powerplay woes continue
Both captains said at the toss that they wanted to bat first, and the coin fell in MS Dhoni's favour. Super Kings came into the match with the worst Powerplay average (20.38) and scoring rate (6.30 per over) of any team this season, and they proceeded to slip up once again. Mumbai used all three of their spinners in the Powerplay, bowling them for four out of six overs, and they took out Super Kings' top three. Faf du Plessis picked out backward point with a cut, while Suresh Raina and Shane Watson fell trying to hit against the turn when the length wasn't in their favour; on this pitch, it was only really a percentage shot if the batsman got to the pitch of the ball or if it was a rank long-hop.
Watson fell off the last ball of the Powerplay, and Super Kings were 32 for 3.
Did Super Kings go too far into their shell?
By the end of the 12th over, the right-handed fourth-wicket pair of M Vijay - brought in for the injured Kedar Jadhav - and Ambati Rayudu had put on 33 in 36 balls. They took no real risks even against the seamers or the offspinner Jayant Yadav, who between them bowled four of those six overs and conceded exactly a run a ball. Vijay was out first ball of the 13th over, stumped attempting to step out and hit Rahul Chahar inside-out. That brought Dhoni to the crease.
Dhoni and Rayudu ramped up the intent a little, hitting Jayant for a six each and then taking eight off the 15th over, bowled by Hardik Pandya. But they weren't prepared to go after the left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya or the legspinner Chahar, and they carefully played out the 16th and 17th overs, scoring a total of eight runs off them. By that point, Super Kings were 99 for 4.
The last three overs went for 32 - decent, but not the explosion Super Kings may have hoped for - with Dhoni launching successive sixes off Lasith Malinga in the 19th but Jasprit Bumrah proving harder to hit either side of it.
Two early wickets
That left Mumbai 132 to get. Super Kings sent back both their openers by the fourth over, leaving them 21 for 2. Deepak Chahar getting Rohit Sharma lbw with an outswinger that beat his attempted leg-side flick, and Harbhajan Singh had Quinton de Kock reaching for the ball and caught at wide long-off.
Reaching for the ball had been a key element of how Mumbai's spinners kept Super Kings quiet - their line had been outside off stump for most part, and their length short of the driving arc. At the end of the match, Dhoni reasoned that his spinners hadn't managed to emulate them, and had bowled too full a length or too straight a line too often.
This allowed the Mumbai batsmen to pick up key boundaries while hitting against the turn. Ishan Kishan launched Harbhajan Singh over the midwicket boundary to end the Powerplay, and Suryakumar Yadav whipped and drove Imran Tahir for successive boundaries through midwicket in the 11th over.
Before all that, both batsmen had enjoyed moments of luck. Suryakumar was dropped by a diving Vijay at mid-on on 11, off Deepak Chahar, and Kishan edged Harbhajan wide of slip on 2.
Suryakumar made Super Kings pay for the miss, using his feet well to get to the pitch of the ball as often as he could, or waiting on the back foot to use the pace of the bowler. Ravindra Jadeja and Tahir are among the quicker spinners in world cricket, and Suryakumar steered both of them deftly to the third man boundary in the 13th and 14th overs, the second of those shots bringing up his fifty, off 37 balls.
Too little, too late
That left Mumbai needing 32 off 40 balls. It proved a pretty straightforward task, even though Tahir took wickets off the last two balls of the 14th over. First he bowled Kishan, who ended up in an awkward position after stepping out too early, and then he had Krunal Pandya caught and bowled to bring up 300 T20 wickets.
Super Kings nearly had another wicket next ball, when Suryakumar stretched out to defend Jadeja and edged him between keeper and first slip. But Shane Watson, diving to his left, couldn't hold on despite getting a hand to the ball. That was pretty much it, and Suryakumar and Hardik steered Mumbai home with an unbroken partnership of 31 in 27 balls.