Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2015 final, Kolkata May 25, 2015

Going against the grain

Mumbai Indians took the final by the scruff of the neck and left the Chennai Super Kings with too much to do on a wicket that had slowed down over the course of the game
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Mumbai Indians' early onslaught put Chennai Super Kings on the back foot right from the start © BCCI

This has been the best year for teams batting first Also, Chennai Super Kings have traditionally relied on amassing a huge total before their bowlers put the opposition under stress by exploiting the scoreboard pressure.

MS Dhoni, though, thought otherwise ahead of the second Qualifier in Ranchi and was proved right, even if only by a whisker. But, after winning the toss and opting to field again in the final in Kolkata, he wouldn't go on to defy the numbers for the second time in a row.

Chennai Super Kings wouldn't have expected their opponents to post the score they did. Their head coach, Stephen Fleming, later said they would have batted first in hindsight because "of the way they played." The decision to bowl, he said, was dictated by the "fresh wicket and a good amount of grass."

"Everything suggested [that we] bowl [first]. What we didn't expect is the inconsistency [in the surface]," Fleming said. "We were playing catch up and that can also make conditions look a little bit worse than what it was."

False dawn(s)
When Faf du Plessis' loopy, reverse flick found the stumps to catch Parthiv Patel short of his crease in the first over, it appeared that the stage was set for Super Kings to chip away. But then, Rohit Sharma and Lendl Simmons ransacked 119 runs in 11.1 overs to unhinge Super Kings.

But, when Rohit and Simmons were out in successive deliveries - Simmons to Dwayne Smith's first ball in this year's competition - Super Kings, like they have so often done in the past, surely had a shot at crippling the scoring-rate. Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu, however, put paid to that line of thinking with a belligerent middle-overs assault.

Contrasting support cast
One of the key differentiators at the end of the game was the performance of the Indian bowlers. None of Super Kings' Indian bowlers went for less than nine runs an over. In sharp contrast, the likes of Vinay Kumar and Hardik Pandya, apart from Harbhajan Singh, provided excellent back-up to the pace pairing of Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan.

Mumbai Indians also read the conditions better, their bowlers dealing in skiddy cutters just outside off stump. Pandya, in particular, troubled Dhoni with deliveries that pinged back in from just short of a length.

Smith's crawl and a limp Powerplay
As often as getting out at the wrong moment is denounced, it's probably just as important in T20 cricket for a struggling batsman to depart at the right moment without wasting deliveries. The opposite of that happened to Super Kings.

Smith and Michael Hussey raised the anxiety levels in their dugout, as only 31 runs were mustered in the Powerplay. Hussey, at one stage, failed to put bat on ball for more than three balls in a row. However, he got out in the fifth over, ceding the stage to others who could charge the run-rate.

Smith's innings, however, was a tenuous battle between runs scored and balls faced. Smith batted till the 12th over to score 57 in 48 balls, and when he looked set to take off, he was trapped in front by Harbhajan.

Pace aces
While a target of 203 was intimidating, Mumbai still needed to back that up with some aggressive bowling upfront given the small boundaries and the quick outfield. Malinga and McClenaghan provided just that. Bristling with purpose, they sent down four overs in the Powerplay, catching the Super Kings openers by surprise with their pace. Malinga's sleight of hand as he varied his trajectory melded favourably with McClenaghan's unrelenting pace. When they returned to bowl in the middle overs, they merely had to slam the door shut on the opposition.

Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • MARTIN on May 25, 2015, 14:43 GMT

    No qualms..With all respect to legendary Dhoni,Kohli,Gambhir,Bailey etc..Rohit turned out as the best captain during this IPL..This is not because of one match,through out the tournament .The way he fought back from last position in the table to win the title was amazing..He revived his team brilliantly even after he lost his best batsmen Finch and Anderson from the tournament earlier..

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2015, 13:55 GMT

    MSD Gambled and it did not work this time. It was a final and there is always pressure in the final games. He was very luck to win the toss once again, however he made the wrong decision to bowl first.

  • Guru Moorthy on May 25, 2015, 12:14 GMT

    CSK for sure did not lose the match at toss.. it was a wise decision to bowl first just like the rcb game.. had they batted against rcb , they wouldn't be in the finals at all. but they managed to pick out AB,virat and gayle without giving much.. this was the only way that they could win in the finals.. no way they would have posted 160+ with the current batting.. even topping the league table and finals runner up is considered a defeat.. shows the class of csk.. CSK still the best team..

  • Jagan on May 25, 2015, 11:56 GMT

    Few things have gone wrong for CSK and MSD had ample time to reverse those.

    Could have used reserve players during the league phase Knew Brendon isn't going to be available at the end. Could have tried Aparjith in place of Hussey or Smith. This would have given CSK the option of trying Kyle Abbott to bowl alongside Nehra Not having a good Indian batting talent in the squad, CSK should look to add some depth.

  • Mandesh on May 25, 2015, 10:42 GMT

    Although Hussey played well against RCB he was still very rusty. Dhoni kept on playing almost the same playting 11. He knew McCullum will not be available, Hussey should have be drafted much earlier or any other opener who would have taken MucCullum's who would have got the feel of the game. Also CSK lost steam at the fag end of the tournament. They lost more matches than they won in the second half of the IPL. While MI played list every game was their last and played to win. The better team on the day won.

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2015, 10:33 GMT

    MI won because two things happened fortuitously .....Finch and Anderson got injured and in their place Simmons and Mclenaghen got to play. Also, Rohit switched to Suchith, Parthiv and Pandya at the right time among Indian players. Result is there for everyone to see. As for CSK, everyone was tired of seeing the same 11 playing from Mid-April. I don't know what hold Jaddu has over Dhoni that despite his mediocre performances, he gets to play for CSK. Dhoni's comment that they missed Brendon was a hit below the belt for the rest of the players. Surely Dhoni is not saying that they were disproportionately dependent on him.

  • kevin on May 25, 2015, 10:17 GMT

    CSK's worst performance both with bat and bowl. Loosing 4 finals till now and third loss in last 4 years. Most Indian players were not at all used. Rahul sharma was a good replacement for jadeja but never utilized him. Not a single player apart from nehra bowled good.

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2015, 10:07 GMT

    For CSK, next year they should drop Dwayne Smith and open with BMac and Faf, That will be a balanced opening combo, with Raina coming in at 3 and MSD at 4. Irfan Pathan at 5, Bravo at 6, and any other Indian player (not Jadeja based on current form). Bowling - Nehra, Kyle Abbott, Ashwin/any other good spinner, Mohit/Ishwar Pandey (depending on form). Dhoni should have used Irfan Pathan atleast once in place of Ravindra Jadeja. What a pity for Irfan Pathan!!!

  • radhakrishnan on May 25, 2015, 7:57 GMT

    CSK lost because they failed to use their bench strenght effectively.MI tried and tested most of their playes in bench and finally found a winning combination.CSK sticked to their regular XI without trying out other players like irfan pathan,kyle abot,rahul sharma and others .In the final most of the players like raina,ashwin,dhoni,FAF looked tired and out of form adding to dhonis bad decisions in the field.

    I guess its time CSK reinvent themselves and bring about new players, new strategies ,new combos to win.

  • Venkat on May 25, 2015, 6:54 GMT

    CSK lost to MI mainly due to Dhoni's insipid captaincy . He opted to bowl when he should have batted . With a daunting run rate, Smith should have opened the batting with Duplessis. He did not use his most economical bowler Ashwin for more than 2 overs. Dhoni is no longer the best finisher and it is clear that his playing days are over . In the whole season , they made use of only 14 players and was never willing to judge the potential of the other 11 players. Dhoni has never thought of more than Plan -A and when the target was 203, he made worse moves. I would like someone other than Dhoni becomes the captain in the next season , preferably , Macullum.

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