Chennai v Mumbai, 1st Qualifier, IPL 2013, Delhi May 21, 2013

All fizz, no kick

Mumbai Indians still have a better head-to-head record against Chennai Super Kings, but once again on the big occasion, they came second

Yet another IPL playoff match. Yet another win for Chennai Super Kings, their eighth in 11 such games. Yet another defeat for Mumbai Indians, their fourth in five such games, including their third in three to Super Kings. Since the IPL final of 2010, Mumbai Indians had won six of the eight times they had met Super Kings before tonight. Only one of those meetings had been a playoff match, the eliminator in 2012. And Mumbai Indians had lost that. They still have a better head-to-head record against Super Kings, but when it comes to the big occasion, they always come second. This collection of superstars just falls apart under pressure.

Bat first, bat big and let five specialist bowlers squeeze the opposition. This had been Mumbai Indians' mantra this season. They'd won the toss, batted and won their first seven home games this way. Somewhere down the line the time was going to come when their bowlers would not have the cushion of a big total and their batsmen would have to come good under the demands of a chase in a crunch match. Through the league stage, there were signs Mumbai Indians would likely struggle in that case, especially away from home.

They narrowly failed to chase 157 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore. Then they managed 92 to Rajasthan Royals' 179 in Jaipur. They did get home against Kolkata Knight Riders' 159 in Kolkata, but needed Harbhajan Singh to hit a six with nine needed off four. Pune Warriors could not test them with just 112, but some signs were again visible in Mumbai Indians' last home match, against Sunrisers Hyderabad's 178. The asking-rate had nearly touched 16 at the death when Kieron Pollard hit eight sixes in no time. That does not happen every day, and in their next match, Mumbai Indians crumbled to 133 in pursuit of Kings XI Punjab's 183 in Dharamsala.

Rohit Sharma was visibly disappointed at losing the toss and having to bowl. A month ago on the same ground, his bowlers had made a mess of defending 161, bowling full tosses and poor lines for Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene to finish things with three overs to spare.

There wasn't even the cushion of 161 today, they had to start blank. Blank and clueless was how they appeared against Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina's onslaught. This is a staggering thing to say in Twenty20, a format where bowlers don't have to do much to get wickets, but at no point during 20 overs did Mumbai Indians threaten to strike.

First ball from Mitchell Johnson was a full toss on the pads and was taken for an easy four. Mumbai Indians went on to bowl a ridiculous amount of full tosses at the death and most of them were taken for boundaries. Munaf Patel had hardly played this season, came into a playoff match, and bowled too often into the pads. When even Suresh Raina does not expect a short ball from you and is prepared for the full one, you know you are getting too predictable. Not once did Lasith Malinga try the bouncer. He didn't even try short of a good length. Pragyan Ojha was likely to find it difficult against two left-handers in such touch, and he did. The fifth bowler was one area Mumbai Indians have had issues with during the season, and Pollard leaked runs again. Had Harbhajan Singh not slowed it down a tad during the middle, MS Dhoni would not have felt his side's total was 10 runs short.

Dwayne Smith's manic hitting put Mumbai Indians slightly ahead after eight overs. He was crashing almost everything for boundaries and another two or three such overs could well have closed the door on Super Kings. With Smith, though, there are only two gears, first and fifth, and he usually does not shift them during an innings. Probably such a tall chase required at least one batsman to play in the way he did. Probably with men such as Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu and Pollard to follow, Smith was right in not being too selective with his shots.

Not often does a batsman make 68 off 28 in a Twenty20 and end up on the losing side. Which is why Mumbai Indians' capitulation, so swift and decisive, was disappointing. None of the four batsmen after Smith lasted even 20 deliveries each. Rohit and Karthik are among the leading run-getters this season but struggled to score even during their short stays on the big night. And the tail showed it is a really long tail with Harbhajan in at No 7.

Once more, the multiple champions proved too good for the pretentious challengers. You can pack your side with all the superstars you want. Both Super Kings and Mumbai Indians have done so. That is where the similarity ends. As long as Mumbai Indians keep crumbling under pressure in crunch matches, that is all they will be taken for. A collection of superstars. They have another chance on Friday in the second qualifier to earn some respect as a team. Meanwhile, Super Kings will be waiting for their fifth final in six seasons.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shajahan on May 23, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    MI lost because of their own mistakes. 1. Too many full Tosses and bowling on the pads...results CSK scored 190+. (it is always been a concern in IPL to bowl to left handers.. not getting gud line and lenth) 2.Do MI really need 5th bowlers while Rohit, Pollard, Smith can be handy with the ball. Look CSK they can bat till 8th down. 3. Tare is not experienced to play in finals. 4. Munaf Patel is worst bowler always. (after Hussey found a gap, Munaf wanted Gully fielder to go to 3rd slip, but already a 3rd man is there... lol..) 5. D.Smith will get out if you bowl big wide delivery outside off.

  • Venkatesh on May 23, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    Csk is the best example for a t20 team. They are a world class unit. Whereas mumbai thinks that they are best but they're not. Rohit is lazy in the field. Ponting selection s bizarre. They are best example for the proverb too many cooks spoil the broth.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    The second qualifier is not over yet. There is a team called Rajasthan Royals who just made it to the second qualifier and mind you, they have beaten Mumbai comprehensively in this tournament at home. So before we talk about MI in the finals, we must really see what's going to happen at the Eden on Friday evening. Royals have shown absolute strength come what may, and they are a force to reckon with. I am not anti-Mumbai, but Royals look very strong!

  • shovan on May 23, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    MI are not judicious with there selection of players and chased STARS for there team. Richard levi came to the scene, they bought him, this year it was Maxwell, even though they rarely used him. They Also have some other stars like ponting, SRT, Johnson, Malinga, Bhaji, Smith.....ETC...May be still this is not enough. They will go for some more.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2013, 2:11 GMT

    " You can pack your side with all the superstars you want. Both Super Kings and Mumbai Indians have done so." ---- Your statement is completely wrong. CSK was formed with local players from TN except for Dhoni ; and they have proved themselves to be match winners in their own aspect like Ashwin, Badri, Vijay. MI ran behind superstars.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2013, 2:00 GMT

    CSK is unbeatable. Byfar the best outfit in the IPL. Dhoni will demolish every bowler in sught. This guy jadeja keeps taking wickets even though he is such a ordinary bowler. I can't explian it. But this team is head and shoulders above the rest.

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2013, 19:55 GMT

    CSK is better than MI. And CSK is better than any other IPL team. Everyone knows it, but only a few accept :)

  • prasad on May 22, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    Yesterday's game shows the match between a fair team vs over-rated team. This season MI used to win only in home matches and managed to win against weak teams in away and one match against CSK. CSK already known lossing in early matches and then accelerate. MI fans just saying always CSK lost 2 matches, lost lost! Losing are part of the game which a team needs good game and bit of luck. MI won toss on both the matches, batted first and won. If MI chase those 2 league matches then result would ve been favour of CSK. MI so strongest team having 11 stars which used to spent much. They cant able to win even one match if any single fast bowler miss to play for their team.

  • Vijayan on May 22, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    I am so surprised Purohit about this artile being published..

    TELL how many times CSK have batted second and won a game in play offs

    against MI too they have always batted first.. i am surprised also cricinfo has published this article

  • hari prasad on May 22, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    @Ayush Goyal, when the author talks about big match, he talks about qualifier/eliminator/finals. In league games MI did get better of CSK, however, big games show how tough you are. Even if you talk about stats perspective, CSK has won two IPL championships, wherein MI has none. Champions league also CSK has won. CSK has been in fnals 5 times, how many finals MI has been in? Results matter, and results wise we have to agree that CSK is a better team.