Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Before Friday, Chennai Super Kings had a spotless record in IPL 2019 at Chepauk, winning five out of five matches. And before Friday, Super Kings had a spotless record while chasing at this venue since 2013. Mumbai Indians, coming off a six-day break, shook off their loss against Rajasthan in Jaipur and toppled Super Kings. So, how did Mumbai breach fortress Chepauk?
Rohit and Lewis bed in
Rohit Sharma had not fired like he can in the lead-up to this game. He had managed only 228 runs in nine innings, which made you wonder if he would be more suited to batting in the middle order. The Mumbai Indians captain, however, sussed out the conditions well in Chennai and gave himself time to give his side a solid platform.
Deepak Chahar tricked Quinton de Kock with a slower offcutter for 15 off nine balls, but Evin Lewis, playing his first game of IPL 2019, announced himself with a trio of boundaries against Deepak in the fifth over.
After simply defending or knocking the ball into the gaps in the Powerplay, Rohit targetted his former Mumbai team-mate Harbhajan Singh and launched him with the turn over wide long-on for a brace of sixes. Lewis and Rohit added 75 for the second wicket - the highest partnership in the match - at a run rate of nearly eight before left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner dismissed the West Indian for 32.
Rohit, though, moved to his first fifty of the season and then cut loose, cracking Imran Tahir for two fours and a six in the 16th over. Just as Rohit threatened to zoom to three figures, Santner had him toe-ending a catch to long-on in the next over. Rohit had done his job, though, seeing off the early exchanges and setting it up nicely for Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard.
"For our team, he matters a lot to us," Rahul Chahar said of Rohit. "He can single-handedly win games, so consequently his form is very important as there are tough matches coming up."
The final flourish
Santner threatened both the edges on a tiring pitch with a delightful cocktail of drift, dip, and turn. In order to maintain a left-right combination, Mumbai sent Krunal Pandya in ahead of both Hardik and Pollard. Krunal couldn't get going and holed out for 1 off 3 balls.
Mumbai were 128 for 4 in 18 overs, and were in desperate need of a finishing kick. Pollard then manufactured his own pace on a slow track and heaved Deepak behind square for four.
Hardik closed out the innings with 12 runs off the last three balls of the innings, including a mighty six over long-on that hauled Mumbai beyond 150. The 33-run stand off 22 balls from Pollard and Hardik hoisted Mumbai to an above-par total.
Slower bowlers give CSK a taste of their own medicine
There wasn't much dew in the night, but the pitch got slower and slower. Lasith Malinga exploited it with his slower cutters and big dippers and nearly had M Vijay on 10 with one such slower variation, but IPL debutant Anukul Roy dropped the catch at backward point.
While legspinner Rahul found sharp turn, Krunal posed a threat with the lack of it and kept hitting hard lengths - neither driveable nor pullable. Krunal defeated both Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu with accurate arm balls.
Meanwhile, Rahul came away with 0 for 21 in his four overs. Left-arm spinner Anukul also played his part in Super Kings' slump by getting Dhruv Shorey for 5 off 8 balls. Super Kings were 60 for 5 and there would be no way back for them.
Malinga returned at the death and took care of Super Kings' tail with a steady dose of slower balls. Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Santner all holed out, trying to clear the long leg-side boundaries as Super Kings were dismissed for 109 - their lowest total at Chepauk.
Super Kings' coach Stephen Fleming credited Mumbai for adapting to the conditions better than his side did.
"The conditions here are really hard to gauge whether you're in form or not," he said. "It's hard to predict how the track is going to play. The last game was probably the best it has played for some time and Watson made the most of it, but today was tricky for all and they dealt with it a lot better than us."
Chennai Super Kings
Mumbai vs Super Kings