Chennai fall to Harbhajan five-for
Mumbai Indians 164 for 4 (Rohit 87, Bollinger 2-30) beat Chennai Super Kings 156 for 9 (Badrinath 71*, Harbhajan 5-18) by eight runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Rohit Sharma dazzled the senses, Harbhajan Singh sucker-punched with three wickets in an over, and Mumbai Indians hustled on the field to go around a sublime S Badrinath and clinch a well-fought win at the Wankhede Stadium.
Though Badrinath batted with so much serenity under pressure that he eclipsed Rohit's knock on the elegance scale, he was left with too much to do on his own. And in the end overs, he looked a forlorn figure in the middle, hardly getting the strike as his team-mates succumbed meekly.
Badrinath tried his best, though. His first scoring shot - a gorgeous off-driven boundary against Munaf Patel of the third ball he faced, set the tone for the night but it was the late cuts that really caught the eye. In the seventh over, he caressed Harbhajan Singh to third man and in the ninth over, he glided Rohit Sharma to backward point boundary. He even lofted Rohit for a pretty six - with the high front elbow and a graceful swing of the bat - over long-off in the same over. He pulled down the shutter briefly to consolidate after the fall of Michael Hussey and MS Dhoni before he opened up again in the end overs.
With 59 runs required from 37 balls, Badrinath sashayed to the leg side and laced an excellent square drive off Lasith Malinga to close the gap. The situation turned grim again as S Anirudha, who had pulled Kieron Pollard for a six, swung a full toss from Harbhajan Singh to deep midwicket to leave Chennai needing 42 from 24 deliveries.
It was an over later that Harbhajan, who had earlier lured Suresh Raina into hitting a return catch, killed the contest with a triple strike. He slipped one past the attempted slog-sweep to bowl Albie Morkel, lured R Ashwin to hole out to long-on, and induced Joginder Sharma to top-edge a slog. Badrinath kept up with the fight, even getting a six in the final over, but Chennai's fight had evaporated into the Mumbai night during that Harbhajan over.
Before Badrinath's sensuous knock, Rohit Sharma owned the evening. He collected three boundaries in his first four deliveries, never looked back from then on and charged Mumbai Indians to a competitive 164. Big hitters usually pulverise the opposition with violence but Rohit seems to caress them to submission.
When Sachin Tendulkar fell in the fourth over with Mumbai on 13 for 2 and with the ball jagging around, Chennai had a great chance to strangle the hosts but they were thwarted by Rohit's belligerence and let down by their bowlers. Rohit was involved in a 61-run partnership with the enterprising Ambati Rayudu and a brutal 87-run stand in 8.1 overs with Andrew Symonds but it was his imprints that lay all over the Wankhede.
Sometimes, you just need a shot or two to get going. Rohit entered the scene after Tendulkar was done for pace and bounce by a sharp lifter but got two gift-wrapped boundary deliveries from Doug Bollinger to kick start his innings. He creamed two over-pitched deliveries to the point boundary and all of a sudden, venom evaporated out of Chennai's bowling. Even Albie Morkel, who was menacing until then, slipped a half-volley on the legs and Rohit collected his third boundary in just four deliveries.
A potentially nervy settling-in period in seamer-friendly conditions had turned into an imperious start and Rohit never looked back, unfurling an array of dazzling shots. He crashed a length delivery from Joginder Sharma over long-on before he was involved in a mini-contest with Suraj Randiv. The off breaks, the doosras, and the topspinners came swirling down and Rohit started to caress and steer his way out of trouble. He glided one to backward point boundary, late cut another to third man and nonchalantly lifted another over extra cover.
He brought up his fifty and Mumbai's 100 in the 15th over with a six over long-off against Randiv and the floodgates were well and truly open. With Mumbai on 107 for 3 in 15 overs, Dhoni turned to Joginder. Mistake. Rohit flayed a length ball to point boundary and shuffled across to pull another to square-leg boundary. That was the start for more imperious innovations.
He paddle-scooped a low full toss from Bollinger for a six over fine-leg before he turned brutal against Suresh Raina in the 19th over. He smote the second delivery, a gentle length ball, over wide long-on, top-edged a slog sweep for couple, and torpedoed the next delivery over cowcorner as Raina leaked 17 runs. Rohit fell in the final over, holing out to long-on, but by then he had entertained the Mumbai crowd in some style.
Rohit had one more crowd-pleasing, and game-turning, moment left in the night. When Chennai needed 64 runs from 47 balls, Dhoni top-edged a swat-flick and Rohit charged in from third man and flung himself forward to pouch a stunner. It was the beginning of the end for Chennai.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo