A typical characteristic of the shortest format of the game is that make one of the greatest truths of cricket – class is permanent and form is temporary – seem like an incomplete one. The eliminator between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians at the Brabourne Stadium on May 28 showed just that. In spite of what transpired in the later stages in the tournament, Chennai Super Kings had performed much better throughout the same and Mumbai Indians had basically made it this far on back of some rousing individual performances. The fact that Chennai Super Kings were more balanced on paper than Mumbai Indians also helped them in the end.
Team composition: Chennai decided to leave out Samuel Badree and Mithun Manhas and brought back Brendon McCullum and Ishwar Pandey. Mumbai inexplicably decided to leave out Shreyas Gopal and welcomed back Praveen Kumar following his absence from the game against Rajasthan. Perhaps it may have been a better decision to leave out Pragyan Ojha who has performed well below par this season.
Batting: Super Kings won the toss and opted to field first. Indians posted a competitive total of 173 for 8 thanks to the openers – Lendl Simmons who scored a magnificent 67 from 44 balls and Mike Hussey who supported him well with 39 from 33 balls. However, all the other batsmen perished in an attempt to force the pace.
Super Kings got home with more than an over to spare thanks to Suresh Raina who remained unbeaten on 54 from 33 balls to see his team home and David Hussey who proved his value to this team yet again with a very quick 40 from 29 balls.
Bowling: Mohit Sharma was the highest wicket taker for CSK in this match with 3 scalps but he conceded too many runs – 42 in 4 overs. Ashish Nehra (2 for 34) and Ravindra Jadeja (2 for 31) performed well with the ball as did Ravichandran Ashwin (1 for 26). However Pandey had a match to forget conceding 25 runs in 3 overs.
For MI, the seamers either did not pick up a wicket – Praveen – or conceded a lot of runs – Corey Anderson (35 runs in 3 overs), Jasprit Bumrah (none for 40 in 3.4 overs) and Kieron Pollard (none for 10). Harbhajan Singh was yet again the standout performer with 2 for 27 and Pragyan Ojha (1 for 34 in 3 overs) tried hard but failed to apply the brakes. They missed the services of Gopal badly.
Where do the teams go from here?
With this game, Dhoni would have found the combination that works for his team and he would like to stick with it for the foreseeable future. However, the form of Pandey would worry Dhoni – it remains to be seen how he tackles the issue. Pandey, on his part, needs to up his game as well and make sure he does not let down the captain.
The season is now over for Mumbai Indians. They made a number of mistakes in their team selection at the auction and paid for it throughout the tournament. One hopes they would address the balance related issues in the team. They need to stop relying on a certain line of attack – they need to be more flexible with the composition of the first eleven, especially their bowling attack – or only a few players and understand who is performing well at the moment and provide them more chances.