Hardik’s all-round effort ends Super Kings’ unbeaten run

Mumbai Indians 170 for 5 (Suryakumar 59, Krunal 42, Jadeja 1-10) beat Chennai Super Kings 133 for 8 (Jadhav 58, Hardik 3-20, Malinga 3-34) by 37 runs. Sometimes six overs is all it takes in T20 cricket. For 14 overs, Chennai Super Kings’ bowlers were all over the Mumbai Indians batting order, restraining them in supreme fashion. At 82 for 3, Mumbai were going at less than six an over and seemed incapable of breaking out of the straitjacket the likes of Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Imran Tahir had put them in. Vitally, though, although Mumbai were being tied down, they did not collapse. Krunal Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav put on 62 off 49 together through the middle overs, laying a platform. With clean hitters like Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard to come, perhaps laying a quiet platform was all Mumbai’s top order needed to do.

Hardik and Pollard were unstoppable in the last two overs of the innings, propelling the team from 125 for 5 at the end of the 18th over, to 170 for 5 after 20 – their partnership worth an invaluable 45 off 12 deliveries. Hardik was the more brutal of the two, walloping two sixes over midwicket and another over the third man, as well as crashing a four through the covers, to reap 25 not out off eight deliveries. Pollard reminded the IPL of his own devastating potential, making 17 not out off seven. It was one of the IPL’s most efficient – Dwayne Bravo – that the pair took to pieces in the final over of the innings, plundering 29, after Bravo had conceded only 20 from his first three overs. Having been Mumbai’s most impactful batsman, Hardik also returned the best figures in the match, dismissing MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja, before later removing Deepak Chahar to claim outstanding figures of 3 for 20.

Earlier, he had waltzed in during the 17th over, Mumbai’s innings, made one run off his first two balls, then exploded. The first of his three sixes was off a Shardul Thakur short ball, which he deposited high into the stands beyond midwicket. The best strokes came against Bravo, next over. The helicopter shot to put the near-yorker into the stands beyond long-on was sublime – Dhoni watching on from a few meters away. Hardik then crashed Bravo to the extra-cover boundary, before the last ball, scything him over backward point for six. From looking like they were headed for a seriously sub-par score, some dauntless death-overs hitting had hoisted Mumbai to a thoroughly competitive one.

Jason Behrendorff and Lasith Malinga also played important roles, the former finishing with 2 for 22 from his four overs, having dismissed Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina with the new ball. Malinga, who took 3 for 34, removing Shane Watson, Kedhar Jadhav and Bravo, is expected to be unavailable for Mumbai’s next two matches, as he returns to Sri Lanka to play in the provincial one-day tournament.

Thanks to these two, Super Kings’ chase also began poorly – Rayudu nicking Behrendorrf behind in the first over, before Malinga had Watson caught at the point soon after. Raina and Jadhav seemed to be getting the innings on track when they struck 27 off the first 21 balls they faced, but Raina was soon caught brilliantly at the deep-point boundary by Pollard, who stuck out a hand high above his head to intercept what would have been a six. Behrendorff was the bowler. This was a blow from which Super Kings would never really recover.

A scoreline of 33 for 3 after five overs is never promising, but perhaps even that is little excuse for the partnership that followed. Jadhav and Dhoni made only 54 off 55 balls together, allowing the required rate to balloon above 14 by the time they were parted. Dhoni struck no boundaries in his 21-ball 12. Jadhav struck five fours through the course of the partnership, but himself only made 36 off the 35 balls he faced in its duration. Then Hardik dismissed them both in the space of four balls in the 15th over, leaving two new batsmen with a near-impossible requirement.