Mumbai Indians v CSK, IPL, Eliminator, Mumbai May 29, 2014

Mundane second-half showing mutes Mumbai's roar

As Mumbai Indians lacked intensity in the field, and the home support equitably flagged, it became all too easy for Chennai Super Kings in the Eliminator on Wednesday night

In the last four overs of their innings, Mumbai Indians could add only 33 runs and lost six wickets, finishing the innings around 20 runs short of what they looked good for. Defending a below-par target on a true pitch, in a ground with short boundaries, against tough opponents, in a knockout match and without Lasith Malinga, Mumbai needed their bowlers to step up, along with their 12th man - their band of aggressive supporters in the stands. But around 10 pm, the crowd lost its voice and the bowlers their sting.

Both of Mumbai's grounds are in the posh neighbourhood along the Marine Drive, replete with art-deco buildings and home to the who's who of Mumbai. Rules like the 10 pm ban on loudspeakers are best implemented in such parts. The rule gets countered to an extent when Mumbai bat second as every four or a six reverberates in the stands, making the home support real. Not when they bat first.

On Wednesday night, the sudden dip in energy levels was infectious as Mumbai's fielders were clumsy early in the second innings - Rohit Sharma dived over one at extra cover to let the ball run to the boundary before Ambati Rayudu and Harbhajan Singh let a skier drop between them. That a very confident and extended lbw appeal - which seemed pretty much out on the replay - from Praveen Kumar and the surrounding fielders didn't go in Mumbai's favour further sapped the spirits. By the end of six overs, around 10.20 pm, Chennai Super Kings were already running away with the match at 60 for 0.

The first half had been anything but dull. Outside the ground, the street extending from Churchgate station to the Marine Drive was packed on both sides with people waiting to get inside the ground, the regular rush of commuters and hoards of hawkers trying to offload their IPL T-shirt stocks.

The din continued inside the ground too. Mumbai batted, and after a slow build-up, Lendl Simmons and Michael Hussey got the innings going. The smoke generators hissed, the music blared, the cheerleaders did their routines, the stands - apart from a few specks of yellow - turned completely blue. Once in a while a bit of yellow mushroomed at the fall of wicket only to be consumed by blue as the home team's batting giants strolled out one after the other. A young fan, sporting the blue and gold jersey, tirelessly pumped his air-piston horn. At about 9.45 pm, when the first innings ended in an anti-climactic implosion for the home fans, he broke the piston mechanism.

Unlike their batting, which had underperformed before making a resounding comeback towards the latter half of the tournament, Mumbai's bowling had lacked potency even when Lasith Malinga had been around. In their previous match, the bowlers had almost shut the door on their team by giving away 189 to Rajasthan Royals, but that was all overshadowed by an explosive response from their batsmen. The noise at the Wankhede Stadium that night had perhaps played its part in sowing the seeds of doubt in the opposition. On Wednesday night, it was the bowlers' turn to mutually feed off that energy, but apart from Harbhajan and Praveen, no one posed consistent questions.

Harbhajan bowled slower through the air and extracted some bounce from the Brabourne pitch that had also benefitted R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the first innings. The double-strike in his first over - both Dwayne Smith and Faf du Plessis fell lofting the ball to the fielders in the deep - was the injection his team, and the crowd, needed to wake up from their slumber. Apart from Sachin Tendulkar in the past and Lasith Malinga, the Mumbai crowd only really seems to connect with Harbhajan and Kieron Pollard. So Harbhajan striking early created a buzz. He bowled his four overs one after the other and gave away 27 runs. During his spell, the three overs from the other end only went for 22, slowing Super Kings down.

Pragyan Ojha had played his part early on by picking up the wicket of Brendon McCullum with a cleverly flighted delivery. His first two overs cost 14 runs and it looked like he was set to play an important role after Harbhajan was done with his quota. Instead, it was Ojha's third over - the 16th - that ended the contest as he was carted away for three sixes, the over costing Mumbai 20 runs. Suresh Raina and David Hussey, who did the damage, trotted out at the remaining runs with ease.

As the 'C-S-K, C-S-K' chants grew louder, the counterbalancing 'Ma-lin-ga, Ma-lin-ga' would have been missed. So would have been Malinga's ability to create opportunities and fire hope. With not much inspiration on the field from the home side, the young boy with the horn spent almost the entire innings trying to fix the mechanism. In the 18th over, an over before the finish, he walked out with the broken horn.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harry on May 29, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Both MI and CSK lack wicket taking bowlers. Malinga made the difference but without him the bowling department got neutralized in the game. So it came down to who had the better batting order and CSK did especially since they were chasing.

    A similar pattern will be seen tomorrow vs KXIP who have exceptional batting but average bowling.

    KKR has the best balance of bowling and batting in this IPL and hence they are in the finals without breaking a sweat. The only team that can challenge KKR will be CSK.

    So hoping to see KKR vs CSK at Bangalore!

  • Steve on May 29, 2014, 14:05 GMT

    Though his bowlers were being carted all over the ground up until 15 overs, MS Dhoni's face didn't show any anger or frustration. He seemed to know his time will come and his calm demeanor rubbed off on his bowlers who bowled really well in the death overs. Captain cool played his part even if he didn't hit a ball. MI lost the match with their inexplicable batting implosion at the end of innings.

  • Altaf on May 29, 2014, 12:32 GMT

    Clinical win by CSK. They played professionally with calm.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2014, 10:03 GMT

    CSK play 4 international T20 captains. And also they dont take their eyes from the local talent. Plp always say, CSK players get a chance to play for India. Its simple, thye pick plp who perform well in our domestic leagues. And they dont care to rest any players. For ex, Bravo was injured and he was relased and they go to Dave Hussey. Byt, RCB failed to do that with Gayes. Thats the diff between a good n bad team. MI just depend upon Malinga, rohit. they cant shine every game.

  • Siva on May 29, 2014, 9:31 GMT

    CSK is full of those big match players. If you look man to man, CSK is far ahead. MI's only hope was in a chase where some of their big hitters can throw their bats around and try their luck. RR-CSK clash would have been far closer.

  • Parashu on May 29, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    MI started this IPL as defending champions and managed somehow to enter the playoff stage with nothing short of a roller-coaster journey. Thanks primarily to Lendl Simmons, who, in 8 innings scored more runs than Rohit Sharma did in 15. Malinga and Bhajji being the only two world-class bowlers after Zahir's departure, of whom Malinga not available for playoffs, never made MI look like they can last in a knock-out match. Not sure who has final say on playing 11 on the day, but neither their selections nor order [bowling or batting] impressed throughout the season.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    Rohit and Harbhajan both are egoistic players along with Gambhir from KKR.Unless they shed their egos, they cannot succeed in the long run. Particularly Rohit becoming the captain of MI, assumes himself to be next SRT, which the media and cranks like Ravi and Sunil has over dosaged him and portrayed him as a great batsmen. He has been flabergasted by these mumbaikars, otherwise he wouldn't even qualify in the indian team. He can play only in flat track with the pitch playing a dummy role.

  • saravana on May 29, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    Mumbai Indians lost only because of same attitude which rajasthan royals .Qualifying for playoffs from impossible stage is not equalent to winning IPL we know that they should know that.Atleast if they had got lost before Mumbai ppl would have not had a big disappointment now.Rohit sharma need learn lot from dhoni

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