Levi launched Mumbai Indians to a convincing victory
The Mumbai Indians got their IPL season off to a perfect start after beating last year’s IPL champions, the Chennai Super Kings, with little difficulty.
South African batsman, Richard Levi, and Indian spinner, Pragyan Ohja, both performed outstandingly throughout the match, as Chennai fans were left mouths agape, while watching their team get routed.
Mumbai Indians newly appointed Captain, Harbhajan Singh, won the toss, and elected to field first, however, Chennai Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was not worried with losing the toss, even though it was supposed to be a better batting surface in the second innings, and said: “Looks like the wicket will get better to bat on, but we are not worried because we think it will remain the same.”
With Harbhajan winning the toss and selecting to field first, Captain Dhoni, and his squad, were looking to make a dominant opening statement to all the other teams in the tournament.
The Chennai crowd, however, witnessed a major mix-up on the fourth ball of the innings, as Murali Vijay called Francois du Plessis for a quick single, but, du Plessis, was not quick enough to beat the direct throw of Ambati Rayudu, and he was on his way back to the dug-out, after scoring three runs.
IPL top scorer, Suresh Raina, joined Vijay at the crease, and let the Mumbai Indians and the crowd know his intentions early into the match, as he started to smash a couple of boundaries and hit the ball into the gaps, in order to repair the early damage done.
However, 34 runs into their partnership, Vijay, who had a lot of difficulty working the ball into the gaps, for the majority of his innings, tried to lift one into the leg side, but ending spooning a simple catch to Captain Harbhajan Singh, ending his innings on 10.
Former Mumbai Indians player, Dwayne Bravo, was hoping to use his knowledge of playing on the squad to his advantage, as he joined Raina at the crease.
Together, the pair added some quick runs, which was exactly what the fans and the team both needed, and wanted to see.
However, after putting together a 37 run partnership, at 9.25 runs per over, Raina, who was looking in amazing form, attempted a lofted drive, which was guided straight down the throat of Lasith Malinga, who was the sweeper at the cover boundary.
Once Raina was dismissed, things started to go all wrong for the Super Kings, as they seemed to have no answer to the bowling of the Mumbai Indians lineup.
Bravo, himself, fell a couple of deliveries later, as he attempted to clear the ropes, but, only ended up finding his West Indian teammate, Kieron Pollard, waiting to complete the catch at long on, which brought an end to his innings on 19.
A couple of deliveries later, it was the dangerous Albie Morkel, who was on his way back to the dug-out, after he hit one straight to Pragyan Ohja at deep square leg.
The Chennai fans erupted as Captain Dhoni walked out to the crease, as they were hoping he could play an innings that would take the team to a defendable total.
However, it was not to be, as Dhoni was dismissed for four runs, after being run out, when Subramaniam Badrinath hit a ball to the point fielder, who did well to get it to Mumbai wicketkeeper, Dinesh Karthik, which resulted in a costly wicket for the Super Kings.
Badrinath, was on his way back just six balls later, as he looked to whip a delivery through the midwicket region, but, ended up finding Captain Singh, who made no mistake in completing the catch.
A third run-out claimed the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin, who attempted a second run after hitting the ball behind the square leg region, but, could not beat the throw from Captain Harbhajan Singh, as he was left helplessly short of the crease.
The most expensive signing ever in the IPL, Ravindra Jadeja, did not prove his worth in the batting department, as he was comprehensively bowled by Lasith Malinga on three.
Doug Bollinger and Shadab Jakati, added a valuable eight runs for the last wicket, before, Bollinger, was caught by Rohit Sharma at backward point, ending the Chennai Super King’s innings on 112.
Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ohja and Kieron Pollard, all took two wickets for Mumbai, while, James Franklin, picked a wicket as well.
Chasing a simple target of 113 to win their opening match, Mumbai opener, Richard Levi, wasted no time, in making a name for himself.
Levi, stuck boundary after boundary, much to the delight of the Mumbai fans in attendance, as the Chennai Super Kings, could just look on in absolute awe.
Sachin Tendulkar, did a good job at the other end, as he just pushed the ball into the gaps and worked the singles to give Levi most of the strike, while giving him some valuable words of wisdom as well.
The pair quickly posted a fifty partnership, and looked to be unstoppable as the target got ever closer.
Levi, posted his maiden IPL half century in beautiful style, as he hammered a massive six off Dwayne Bravo, which left Tendulkar with a massive grin on his face.
However, the very next ball after reaching his half century, Levi, tried to clear the boundary ropes once again, but, could not get enough power behind the shot, and was easily caught on the long off boundary by Doug Bollinger, bringing an end to his spectacular innings, and the 69 run partnership he had put together with Tendulkar.
With Levi putting Mumbai in a strong position, Rohit Sharma, was looking to finish off the match with Tendulkar, however, that was not to be the case, as he was caught behind on the third ball he faced, igniting a huge roar from the Chennai crowd.
Three deliveries later, Mumbai were hit with another major blow, as Tendulkar received a nasty short pitched delivery from Bollinger, which hit him right on the finger, and caused him to leave the field.
Ambati Rayudu and James Franklin, were the two fresh batsmen for Mumbai, and Captain Dhoni, told his team to increase the intensity, if they were to have any chance of pulling off a miraculous win.
However, Franklin and Rayudu, played very sensibly, as they rotated the strike to get settled at the crease, while also taking advantage of any loose deliveries, which were pounced upon and dispatched to the boundary.
With the target within striking distance, Franklin and Rayudu, did not attempt to do anything risky, as they slowly, but steadily, guided Mumbai to victory.
Rayudu, ended the match in style, as he cracked a six over the third man boundary, giving the Mumbai Indians a dominating eight wicket victory.
Franklin and Rayudu, both remained unbeaten at the crease, as they put together a match-winning 43 run partnership.
Doug Bollinger and Dwayne Bravo were the only bowlers to get a wicket each in the match.
Captain Dhoni, was less than impressed with the start his team had made to the fifth edition of the IPL, and said: “Not a typical Chennai wicket. Quite happy with the bowling, but as usual, another rusty start to the tournament. Maybe 140-145 would not have been difficult. Levi batted well though.”
Captain Singh, on the other hand, was extremely pleased with the way his team had performed, and said: “It was a good toss to win, the wicket is unpredictable, Levi played a terrific innings. It’s a very important thing in this format [fielding]. If Dhoni would have stayed, another 30-40 runs would have been difficult on this wicket.”
With Mumbai opening their IPL account with a big win over the defending champions, they will be looking to continue the run of form, when they face the Pune Warriors on April 6 at Mumbai.
Chennai, meanwhile, will be looking to regroup and perhaps put forward a different lineup when they play the Deccan Chargers on the April 7 at Visakhapatnam.