Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, CLT20 2011, Chennai September 24, 2011

Chennai's home stretch stopped

A missed stumping contributed to Chennai's streak of nine home wins finally came to an end

Winning streaks are capricious creatures. You win a game here, another couple there, and before you know it you are on a roll. The sequence then begins to build momentum; everyone's talking about the fact that you haven't lost in a while. Your fans know it. Your opposition tries to ignore it, but they can't. It plays on their mind, it muddles up their thinking. It liberates your approach and you pull off gambles you would never have thought of if you were in the doldrums. The streak assumes a life of its own, and mows down the opposition like a rumbling juggernaut. Or like an in-form Chris Gayle.

Until it becomes too big to sustain itself, and implodes unforgettably. Not many remember even a handful of the Tests that made up Australia's first 16-match winning streak. But everyone remembers Eden Gardens 2001. Not many can recall the 17 successive ODI chases India pulled off in 2006, certainly not more than those who can recall Dwayne Bravo ending it by castling a marauding Yuvraj Singh. Not even Chennai's staunchest supporters will recall each one of their nine home wins this year, but they are going to be rankled by tonight's coup for a while to come.

Twenty20 streaks are the hardest to build in cricket, given the sheer unpredictability hard-coded into the format. Gayle's seven-match IPL blitz was an exception - it was a case of one man's irresistible form taking the vagaries of the format out of the equation. The longest run in Twenty20s is Sialkot's 25-match unbeaten streak, a wonderfully improbable oddity that fits in with the incredible world of Pakistan cricket. Chennai's streak was the most easily explained of the lot since it was founded upon strong fundamentals: a bunch of robotically perfect bowlers, a bionic top order with the perfect blend of local and international talent, and above all - the coolest captain of them all.

Following India's hiding in England, MS Dhoni doesn't carry that aura of invincibility anymore. Yet, a return to the subcontinent in the Super Kings' yellows was expected to herald a resumption of the winning ways. For 36 overs, Dhoni held all the aces. He won the toss on a sluggish track, he saw Michael Hussey surge through the gears after a cautious start and he himself laid the toppings with a typical cameo. He then made all the right calls on the field, getting R Ashwin, Dwayne Bravo and Suresh Raina to dismantle the Mumbai top order. Chennai were walking to another home win.

During the IPL, every time a key player failed, Chennai had someone else to take up the slack. Against Kolkata, Suraj Randiv bled runs in the 19th over of the chase, but Tim Southee bowled a magical final over. Against Kochi, the top order uncharacteristically misfired, but they had Wriddhiman Saha at hand to haul them to a match-winning score. Today, there was no rescue act.

Raina was ignored after picking up 2 for 6 in two overs, and Shadab Jakati, who has a reputation for coming apart under pressure, preferred. The reasoning, as is always the case with Dhoni, was sound: Jakati's left-arm spin takes the ball away from the right-handers at the crease, whereas Raina would have aided the slog to leg.

But logic tends to fall apart when tail-enders are involved. Lasith Malinga walked out with all of 76 runs in his seven-year Twenty20 career. He lined up Jakati and bull-dozed him down the ground for two sixes, and continued swinging.

And then the moment came: Malinga looked for a third six in the over, and Dhoni fluffed a simple stumping that he later admitted cost his side the game. This time, the captain himself had messed up his lines, and Chennai, for once, were pipped on the home stretch. No one will remember the four dismissals Dhoni effected in the Mumbai innings. Yet few Chennai fans will forget the one that went away.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2011, 19:07 GMT

    I have been one of those who thought Dhoni had a different mind set and that worked for the team but, now i think i was wrong he had a different thought process but that worked only well when the team was strong. When he had a below average team he was not able to win. It was always a problem for CSK that they had no good bowlers. It was working for them because their batting compensated their bowling worries. In the game like last their bowling (except the 6 Overs from Aswin and Raina) their bowling was one of the worsts. I still cant find why Dhoni went and told the fast bowlers to bowl Yorkers in the last overs. The seamer were giving all short lengths and wide of offs full lengths. None of the seames bowled stump to stump and yorker on stumps. I think it was rthe captains resposiblity as well to tell. he failed to this is any matches ever he captaind . i have rarely seen Dhoni's side bowling Yorkers. No comments on Jakati.Opponents 12th player

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2011, 17:40 GMT

    more than people want MUMBAI to win , they want CHennai to lose , I dont know why this South Indian hatred is there , Still CSK will win , DHoni's luck is there or not , we will come back strongly , even in last IPL CSK lost a match , but didnt they went on win the CUP... Enjoy the cricket and dont show hatred on other states , majorly on chennai , you ppl cant accept chennai is the best team.. Just out of no where malinga scored and for that you are saying Dhoni is bad , we all know about Sachin's captaincy in the last IPL , giving first over to some local bowler when gayle playing... I am not blasting other teams but supporting CSk , wait and see the result , even Harsha , Ravi all supporting MI , why they also hate CSK i dont know , no one from south should win anything? , always ppl from north should win , so only CSK is proving them wrong , 2 IPLs - 1 CL , 1 Finalist , 1 Semi finalist.. CSK rocks

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2011, 14:07 GMT

    @rsurya If Raina havent got out stumping it would have been a different story , if malinga got out as usual he used to , it would have been a different story , Dhoni much better than Bhajji as captain , CSK much better team than MI...

  • surya on September 26, 2011, 7:44 GMT

    If losing today is a bad luck, then winning yesterday is a good luck. Its the result of "At the end of the day winning is important". No matter how but we won games before, and inclusion of sreesanth in WC finals cannot be questioned. No winner at Las vegas can explain how he won it. Worst field set by any captain is in england match in worldcup. also in finals. Defensive mood captain, takes only funny risks. EVIL SPIRIT OF CRICKET.....

  • Johnathon on September 26, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Finally Dhoni's luck as a captain is running out. He was lucky the entire time, riding on the already made team that Sourav Ganguly had worked so hard to create. Also, his sportmanship is really going down. After an incredible one man save (malinga) who took the game away, one would expect the opposing captain to acknowledge the person (as most captains do) for taking the game away. Instead he said that "he was disappointed" and that "the loss was his fault because he did not complete the stumping".... in short, he did not acknowledge the heroics of malinga and instead blamed the loss on his missed stumping.... hate to break it to you dhoni but if you did not catch that top edge off of Pollard, it would also be a different story, but we can't really say "ifs" right? Also, would like to see Dhoni promote himself up the order. He is in some good batting form after the England ODI series and his team needs him now more than ever. Sad for Hussey, making 80 and no win/Man of Match

  • surya on September 26, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    Dhoni : "I the stumping s have been made, it would have been a different story...". Bajji : "If pollard had not top edged it would have been a different story, if jacob had not missed the ball it would have been a different story". Dhoni ??????!!!!!!?????

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    flinging himself at a ball with eyes closed? Come on! He's got a lot gray hair as well! Poor guy I would say! Anyway the pic is awesome and got to have it for a caption contest for sure!

  • Atit on September 26, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    maddy20 buddy, I can feel that you are a big fan of CSK, great.... but why do you want MI to loose against COBRAS? MI is loosing their key players such as Sachin in opening, Rohit in the middle and Munaf as their econimical bowler. It is obvious that every match for MI is a tough task but they pulled it off against CSK at their home and so may be they can do it again and again. Never know coz T20 games can change in couple overs and that magic can be seen in Pollard, Ambati, Bhajji, and of course Malinga.

    I think MI should have let CSK win because Indian captain needs some confidence boost....

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2011, 16:18 GMT

    mi won just wid pure luck thts all cant w8 till mi get crushed under the feet of trinidad and tobago

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2011, 16:03 GMT

    well mumbai was awesome but too early to say about dhoni he also took the blame good bur really his confidnece as a captain is 0 or maybe minus he really needs something in clt20 maybe not a win but some good wins so that he has confidence for home series against eng but MUMBAI ALL THE WAY

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