Kolkata: Mumbai Indians crushed Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs to lift their maiden Indian Premier League crown and give the iconic Sachin Tendulkar – who announced his retirement from the league – a fitting farewell gift in front of a capacity crowd at the Eden Gardens here Sunday.
Riding on a blitz 60 from Kieron Pollard, Mumbai posted a competitive 148/9 before restricting Chennai to 125/9 in a game played in the shadow of the spot fixing scam and amid reports that some more players could be arrested after the match.
However, the cricket buffs of the sports-crazy city filled up the galleries, giving a thumbs up to the game of cricket.
A valiant unbeaten 63 (45b 3×4 5×6) by skipper M.S. Dhoni saved the men in yellow from the embarrassment of posting their lowest total ever, that had looked a distinct possibility when they lost their eighth wicket with only 58 on the board in the 12th over.
Dhoni’s desperate 9th wicket partnership of 41 in 6.1 overs with R. Ashwin (9; 18b) enabled Chennai to last the full quota of overs.
Dhoni did hit some lusty blows in the end but those came too little too late.
The Mumbai bowlers kept dealing regular death blows to the Dhoni-led side, most of whose batsmen departed to poor shots.
Lasith Malinga (2/22), Mitchell Johnson (2/19) and Harbhajan Singh (2/14) were the wreckers in chief for Mumbai.
Chennai’s much vaunted batting line up boasting the likes of leading run scorer Michael Hussey fell like nine pins, as the men in yellow could never recover from their catastrophic start and seemingly succumbed to big match pressure despite appearing in five IPL finals including four on the trot.
The cavalcade of Chennai wickets started when two of their most prolific batsmen Hussey and Suresh Raina departed in successive balls of the innings’ very first over bowled by Malinga.
Chennai’s misery was compounded in the next over when Mitchell Johnson made S. Badrinath (0) to edge one behind the wicket to Dinesh Karthick as the scoreboard flashed 3/3.
After stitching a 32-run partnership with M. Vijay, Dwayne Bravo (15; 16b 3×4) had to take the long walk back after he chipped Rishi Dhawan straight to mid-on.
The fall of wickets continued with Ravindra Jadeja going for a duck, quickly followed by Vijay 18 (20b 2×4).
With the twin dismissals of Morkel 10 (10b, 1×6) in the 11th over and Chris Morris (0) in the next, the writing was on the wall for the Super Kings as they hurtled towards one of their lowest total and an embarrassing defeat.
Earlier, Mumbai recovered from a disastrous start to post a respectable total.
Apart from Pollard’s blitzkrieg, only Ambati Rayudu (37) and Dinesh Karthick (21) made useful contributions.
Chennai’s find of the season Mohit Sharma, coming to the match with 19 wickets, spit venom as the Mumbai top order struggled against his moving deliveries.
However, the dashing West Indies batsmen Pollard was on song to remain unbeaten with a half century plus score (32b 7×4 3×6).
The match ended in some nostalgia, as Tendulkar – who sat out the game with a wrist and hand injury – announced his retirement from the IPL.
All smiles at his side’s success, Tendulkar immersed himself in the celebrations, and was lifted in the air by his teammates and later also took the victory lap.
For Chennai, Dwayne Bravo (4/44) was the most successful bowler
The big match did not have exactly the sort of build up that one would have expected it to have.
The raging spot fixing scam seemed to have pushed into the background the on-field happenings as the scandal snared cricketers, an administrator and a small time Bollywood personality.
What is worse, as the game was on, there came reports that a Delhi police team was in the city and three to four IPL players were likely to be arrested after the final match.