Opening assault
Both Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians conformed to the same template through the match, and it began with their respective openers going for broke. Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum, like they have done on a few occasions in IPL 2015, sprinted to 44 in 4.5 overs before McCullum was dismissed.

Their counterparts - Parthiv Patel and Lendl Simmons - lasted longer and made a more damaging impression on the bowlers' figures. And it wasn't just the muscular strikes that stood out in their 84-run stand that lasted 10.1 overs. There was some sensational running that unnerved even an accomplished fielding unit like Super Kings.

Middle-overs lull and spin strangulation
With both teams putting a premium on steady accumulation, the middle period was a throwback to ODIs in the 90s and the early noughties. Super Kings scored 40 runs between the sixth over and the 13th, while Mumbai could muster only 24 from the 10th to the 16th.

In both instances, a key factor was the inability of the middle order to build on the opening partnerships. Super Kings went from 44 for 1 to 64 for 2 and 65 for 3. It must be said that tactically Rohit Sharma was spot on, showing courage in having an extra fielder inside the circle to prevent two new batsmen - MS Dhoni and Faf du Plessis - from easing themselves in.

Mumbai also lost wickets in quick succession. Both their openers were excised by R Ashwin in the space of three balls, and Kieron Pollard was dismissed the next over.

Another common thread linking the teams' middle-over struggles was the deployment of spinners for the most part. The wicket slowed and gripped as the game went on, and a stifling line bowled at a flatter trajectory looked like the staple on the spinners' menu.

Mumbai spill; Chennai return the favour
Super Kings and Mumbai seemed to be having a who-drops-the-most-catches contest. Harbhajan opened the account after putting down a simple chance offered by McCullum in the fourth over. Mumbai, then, had a fairly decent catching day until the last over when J Suchith and Mitchell McClenaghan dropped Pawan Negi off consecutive deliveries.

Super Kings staggered their drops, with Negi missing the first one in the third over when he dived forward but couldn't hold on to Parthiv's chipped shot. Even the super-reliable pair of Suresh Raina and du Plessis grassed chances, but in Raina's case, his dropped catch resulted in Dwayne Bravo running out Kieron Pollard with a direct hit. There was one more miss on a forgettable catching day, as Ravindra Jadeja fluffed Hardik Pandya's skier in the last over.

Power Negi
The giant screen at the MA Chidambaram Stadium rechristened Negi thus, as he clubbed some hefty blows in his 17-ball 36 to take Super Kings to a score that appeared beyond them at one stage. His methods were simple: back away, clear front leg and slap or swipe. It didn't matter if the balls were full or short, at his body or wide. His fluent striking seemed to lessen the load on Dhoni, who was struggling to belt out his usual sixes.

Negi began well with the ball, too, conceding only 10 runs in his first three overs. But, unfortunately for him, there would be no happy ending on the night.

The Pandya punch
Hardik Pandya was the man responsible for turning Negi's promising night into a nightmare. Until the time he came out to bat, Pandya had barely called any attention to himself. Earlier in the night, he was tossed the ball in the 13th over of Super Kings' innings, and he did a fine job of not letting Dhoni and du Plessis take more than four runs off him.

But taking guard with 34 required off 16 was a different scene altogether. There were murmurs in the crowd as to why he was sent ahead of Harbhajan. Pandya's mauling of Negi would tell us why. With 30 off 12 needed, Pandya clobbered Negi for three sixes in four balls. He was an equal-opportunity punisher, sparing neither the tossed up one nor the faster deliveries, and effectively settling the contest with his strikes.

Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo