Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashed an unbeaten half-century as defending champions the Chennai Super Kings defeated the Mumbai Indians by 38 runs on Wednesday to ensure a clash with the Delhi Daredevils for a place in the Indian Premier League final.
Dhoni top-scored with 51 off 20 balls to help Chennai win the “eliminator” game — the equivalent of a quarter-final — as they amassed an imposing 187-5 and then restricted Mumbai to 149-9.
Dwayne Bravo (33 not out and 2-10) was the other main performer for the winners.
Dhoni capped a fine batting performance by his team, with Bravo helping provide an impetus toward the end of the innings.
The pair added 73 runs off just 29 balls, Dhoni smashing two sixes and six fours, and Bravo hitting two sixes and three fours off 14 balls.
Mumbai seamer Dhawal Kulkarni, who had taken three wickets and looked impressive with his away-swingers, was made to look ordinary in his last two overs as Dhoni clobbered him for three consecutive fours in one over and then Bravo smashed him for two consecutive sixes in the last over of the innings that went for 19 runs.
Earlier, Mike Hussey (49) and Subramaniam Badrinath (47) both excelled in their 39-ball knocks, rescuing Chennai after Kulkarni had dismissed opener Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina off consecutive deliveries to reduce Chennai to 1-2.
Hussey and Badrinath added 93 for the third wicket before departing in successive overs.
“A lot of credit for the win should go to Badri and Hussey,” Dhoni said. “Badri is an unsung hero. Because of their effort, Bravo and I could do well with the bat.” Mumbai’s reply started with the West Indies’ Dwayne Smith, promoted as opener, showing flourish in his 22-ball 38. However, the tempo could not be maintained as the Chennai bowlers made Mumbai struggle for runs and were also backed by some good fielding.
After Tendulkar was run out early on, Morkel had Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma caught behind off successive overs.
Dwayne Bravo also picked up two crucial wickets as Mumbai’s hopes of seeing big-hitting Kieron Pollard pull off the improbable crashed when he was bowled by Hilfenhaus for 16 in the 18th over.
Delhi had lost the first “qualifier” game — played between the top two teams of the league — to the Kolkata Knight Riders, but gets another chance to make the final in the second “qualifier” against Chennai today.
Mumbai are out of the tournament, while Kolkata have already ensured a place in the final, slated to be played in Chennai on Sunday, because of their win over Delhi.