Chennai Super Kings breezed into the final of the Pepsi IPL for the fourth straight time with a thumping 48-run win over Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Riding on pyrotechnics of Mike Hussey (86) and Suresh Raina (82), CSK posted a massive 192 for one and then bowled out Mumbai Indians for 144 in 18.4 overs to complete an easy victory.
Mumbai Indians' last nine wickets fell for 57 runs.
However, Mumbai will get another chance to qualify for the final when they meet winner of the the second qualifier between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals.
For the record, CSK made it to the fifth final in six editions of the cash-rich league. The only time they failed to make it to the title round was the second edition held in South Africa where they lost in the semi-finals.
En route their win, Hussey (732 runs) and Dwayne Bravo (28 wickets) also retained the ‘Orange’ and ‘Purple’ Cap respectively for being the highest run scorer and the highest wicket-taker in the tournament respectively.
Dwayne Smith’s big-hitting prowess is well documented and while chasing a target of 193, one needed to be aggressive right from the start. He blasted 28-ball 68 but after his fall, Mumbai lost wickets in a heap.
Smith took full advantage of the field restriction as he played the lofted shot to good effect. Whether it was rookie Mohit Sharma or South African Chris Morris, Smith deposited all of them in the stands as Mumbai recovered after an early wicket.
Aditya Tare's dismissal couldn't deter Smith as rival skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw his bowlers being clobbered. Smith reached 50 off 21 balls and then Ravichandran Ashwin was brought into the attack.
Smith hit him for a straight six into the sight-screen and followed it with a boundary. Such was Smith’s dominance that in a partnership of 75 runs with Dinesh Karthik, the latter contributed only nine.
The mayhem couldn’t have continued forever as left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (3/31) claimed the key wicket of Smith.
Smith misread the length, his mistimed shot ballooned up and Raina took an easy catch on the off-side.
Jadeja then bowled an arm ball which caught Karthik plumb in-front trying a sweep shot. Skipper Rohit Sharma was then holed out in the deep off Morris and MI slumped to 101 for four from a relatively strong 87 for one.
Kieron Pollard did hit a couple big sixes off Jadeja but gave a simple catch to short fine leg fielder inside the circle trying to flick one. With Pollard back in the dug-out, a victory for Mumbai was out of question.
Bravo (3/9) and Mohit Sharma (2/32) then polished off the tail without much difficulty.
Earlier, Hussey and Raina took the Mumbai Indians attack to the cleaners as Chennai Super Kings posted a mammoth 192 for one.
Hussey delighted the sell-out crowd with his amazing array of strokes as he scored an unbeaten 86 off 58 balls with the help of 10 boundaries and two shots over the fence.
He was ably complemented by the ever-dependable Suresh Raina who smashed his way to a breathtaking 42-ball-82 that had five boundaries and an equal number of huge sixes.
The duo put on astonishing 140 runs for the second wicket in 12.4 overs as CSK put on an imposing total after electing to bat.
The duo scored 123 runs in the last 10 overs with both going on the rampage. The southpaws were on song as they played some breathtaking shots in the cover region. Both matched each other stroke for stroke with Mumbai's bowlers dishing out one full-toss after other.
Although Harbhajan Singh failed to take a wicket, his figures of none for 26 in four overs were decent while pace duo of Lasith Malinga (0/45) and Mitchell Johnson (0/40) gave away 85 runs in eight overs between them. Munaf Patel (0/32) poor effort also didn’t help the cause.
Hussey started off with a boundary as Johnson fed him one on his legs. The normally profligate Munaf Patel was hit for successive boundaries by Vijay as 12 runs came of that over.
The initial momentum that they got helped them get into the groove. Hussey in particular was a delight to watch. When Johnson provided width, he played the square cut with ferocity, when Malinga bowled a slower one, he was quick to judge the length of the delivery and dispatch it through covers.
47 runs came in the Powerplay and Hussey was already up and racing. When Harbhajan tried to flight one, he came out and played a delightful inside-out shot over extra cover.
The 50 came up in the seventh over but Vijay (23) again frittered away a good start.
Kieron Pollard provided the breakthrough as Vijay slogged lazily and was caught in the deep midwicket region by Dwayne Smith.
The introduction of Raina proved to be a shot in the arm for Hussey as both players carted the MI bowlers to all parts of the ground.
Raina’s sixes were a treat to watch, especially the one over extra cover which was hit with a lot of panache. Similarly Hussey looked elegant as he pulled a short ball from Pollard over deep square leg for a six.
While Hussey completed his 50 off 40 deliveries, Raina smacked a Pollard full-toss over midwicket to get to his milestone in 29 balls.