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How Mumbai Indians stalled Chennai Super Kings' juggernaut

What does it take to stall the Chennai Super Kings juggernaut on a three-match undefeated streak? A debutant, an anchor and Hardik Pandya.

Five in a flurry

For all the criticism he might have copped for slowing down in the middle overs, the first five fours in Suryakumar Yadav's 43-ball 59 were key to changing the complexion of Mumbai Indians' Powerplay. Pegged back by Quinton de Kock's early departure, the first three overs yielded only nine runs for the hosts. But they scored 31 off the next three, the turnaround beginning in the fourth over with Suryakumar carting Shardul Thakur for back-to-back fours.

In the following over, he hammered Deepak Chahar, who had not conceded more than one four in an over in the combined 13 overs he had bowled up to that point, for three consecutive fours. A blend of timing and technique, the medley of boundaries off Deepak included an exquisite punch on the up, a straight drive past mid-on, and a crisp flick behind midwicket - all off back-of-a-length deliveries.

While Suryakumar slowed down in the middle overs, his 62-run fourth-wicket stand with Krunal Pandya lifted Mumbai from 50 for 3 to set them up for a final burst.

Hardik rises as Suryakumar falls

With Mumbai on 125 for 5 in 18 overs after Suryakumar's dismissal, Hardik, who had faced only two deliveries till that point, had little choice but to go big. And big did he go, scoring 24 off the next six balls he faced that included three sixes and a four. Hardik's fireworks lent credence to Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming's assessment that "if you can keep him out of the game, you often go close to winning."

The start of the 19th over of Mumbai's innings dented that possibility for Super Kings to a large degree. With Kieron Pollard keeping him company, the pair's end-overs offensive - including Pollard's seven-ball 17 - capped off the innings that began with the second joint-lowest run tally in IPL history - of three runs - in the first two overs of the innings but ended with the joint-most - 45 runs - off the last two.

Behrendorff's landfall

After Mumbai's win on Wednesday, Jason Behrendorff said, "My main strength is swinging the ball upfront and taking wickets." If these were the standout features on Jason Behrendorff's resume that earned him a contract in the January 2018 IPL auction, he delivered exactly that on his IPL debut, on a surface that had a little bit of bounce and seam.

Completing his quota inside the first nine overs of the innings, he demonstrated why "hitting the top of the stumps was quite effective."

Behrendorff's 2 for 22 saw him square up both right- and left-handers and put them in two minds with his steep bounce and away-going deliveries. With a Smart Economy of 3.00 to boast for the 12 Smart Runs he conceded, the left-arm quick, according to CricViz, elicited 32% false shots from the Super Kings batsmen, allowing them to attack only 24% deliveries.

The rub of the green Behrendorff had in the form of that one-handed screamer by Pollard to dismiss Suresh Raina in the fifth over was in part down to his own execution of a "plan [we set] for that, knowing that he [Raina] likes to back away and he'll look to go over the off side." For a debutant who had dismissed Ambati Rayudu for a first-ball duck with a moving ball that rose delectably after hitting the deck, the Pollard stunner was a befitting bonus.

Rapid, on fire, Hardik signs off with the ball

It hadn't been three complete nights since Dhoni struck that match-winning 75 not out. Although the asking rate heading into the 15th over of Super Kings' chase on Wednesday was 14, with Dhoni on 12 off 20 balls, the threat of yet another special at Wankhede was still alive.

So when Hardik ambled in to deliver his third over, having conceded only six off his wicketless first two, there wasn't anything particularly menacing about him. But that, and the course of the game, changed decidedly in the space of the next four balls. Eliciting a mistimed pull off Dhoni and having Ravindra Jadeja caught behind, Hardik lent an air of finality to Super Kings' chase.

As a result, Super Kings' chances of winning fell drastically on ESPNcricinfo's Forecaster tool, with the win probability dropping under 4%, despite Kedar Jadhav and Dwayne Bravo - the chief orchestrators of Super Kings' miraculous one-run win in the 2018 season opener at the same venue - still at the crease.

To sign off proceedings in what imminently appeared to be shaping up as Mumbai's 100th IPL win, and their first at home this season, Hardik returned to dismiss Deepak to finish with figures of 3 for 20 to seal Mumbai's 37-run win.