Chennai: In the opening game of the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Chennai Super Kings (CSK) had routed the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. The hosts prepared a sluggish turner and the RCB batsmen were found wanting as they folded up for just 70. While skipper M.S. Dhoni spoke about the need to have sporting wickets, the nature of the tracks didn't change much in the next matches.
And 45 days later, Chennai paid the price when the slow and low turner saw them at the receiving end. Winning the toss and batting first against Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1, they could manage only 131/4, that too after Dhoni led a late innings onslaught. But in the end, it was almost a walk in the park for Mumbai Indians as they reached their fifth IPL final.
Coming into the match, CSK had boasted of a tremendous record at home, winning six of their seven games in Chennai this season. However, it all fell apart on Tuesday. Taking first strike, the Chennai top-order looked to bat like they were playing on a flat deck at the Wankhede and the 'see ball, hit ball' policy saw them tottering at 32/3 at the end of the powerplay.
"Yeah it [pacing the innings] is tough. There's the problem we're finding -- we're so far behind in the powerplays. We're doing things right from overs 6 to 20, the run rate today I think was 7 and [then] 10 [in the last six overs]. We're getting the right runs there, [but] we are just finding ourselves behind in the powerplays," CSK coach Stephen Fleming said at the post-match presser.
While Dhoni -- who had been hiding the batting flaws of the team in the previous games - did try his best, the MI spinning trio of Rahul Cahhar (2/14), Krunal Pandya (1/21) and Jayant Yadav (1/25) stuck to the basics and let the wicket do the talking. In fact, Dhoni's 66-run stand for the fifth wicket with Ambati Rayudu didn't help the home team much.
On the other hand, Mumbai continued their convincing run at the Chepauk as they chased down the target easily. Suryakumar Yadav played a composed, well knitted knock of 71* as the other batsmen rallied around him.
The Chennai spinners -- Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir -- bowled well, but in absence of a competitive and fighting total they failed to apply the pressure on the MI batsmen to make them commit mistakes.
But Dhoni looked at the positive side and said that having finished second after the group stages, they will now get another bite at the cherry when they face the winner of the Eliminator between Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2 on Friday.