Was there ever really any doubt? The Lean Mean Yellow Machine aka Chennai Super Kings put in another brilliant IPL performance to pummel the Mumbai Indians by 48 runs in Qualifier 1 at the Feroz Shah Kotla and seal yet another place in the final.
There is no better team in the IPL than CSK when it comes to performing in the big games, and this was a no-contest really with Michael Hussey (86 n.o. in 58) and Suresh Raina (82 n.o. in 42) allying for a brilliant 140 runs to take their side to a monumental 192 for one, after choosing to bat first.
Dwayne Smith (68 in 28) threatened to blitz the Mumbai Indians to the target, but once the West Indian was dismissed, wickets tumbled one after the other as CSK bowled their opponents out for 144 in 18.4 overs, with Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja - who picked up the crucial wickets of Smith and Kieron Pollard - finishing with three wickets each.
CSK now wait in the wings after entering their unbelievable fifth final in six IPL seasons, while the Mumbai Indians have another chance of making the showpiece game, if they win their second semifinal against the winners of the game between the Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, who play on Wednesday.
- FOLLOW US
- Follow @ibtimesindia
The Mumbai Indians needed a couple of big innings from their batsmen - all they got was the prospect of a couple of blazing knocks, with both Smith and Pollard looking capable of taking the game to the wire, but eventually succumbing to the pressure.
Aditya Tare was given another opportunity at the top, with Sachin Tendulkar still not fit enough to play due to a tendon problem in his wrist. The right-hander got off the mark with a glorious square drive, but was gone in the second over of the innings, mistiming one to Murali Vijay at mid-on off Albie Morkel.
Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik raised hopes of a brilliant chase with a nice partnership of 75 from 6.4 overs, 63 of which came from Smith's blade.
The West Indian looked in stunning form, scoring runs at will and threatening to single-handedly take the game away from CSK.
Morkel, Mohit Sharma, Chris Morris and R Ashwin were all taken for runs as the Mumbai Indians coasted along to 86 for one from eight overs.
Then came the crucial blow for CSK, with the man with the golden arm - Ravindra Jadeja - coming to the party, picking up the wicket of Smith (68, 28b, 6x4, 5x6). The man from Barbados looked for another maximum to continue his assault, but only managed a thick outside edge, which Raina gleefully grabbed.
Karthik (8 in 15 balls) and Rohit Sharma were walking back to the dugout soon after, with Jadeja picking up the wicket of the former and Morris accounting for the Mumbai Indians skipper.
There was only one man now capable of pulling off a miracle and for a couple of overs, he looked like he just might be capable of another magical act similar to the one against the Sunrisers Hyderabad earlier this season.
The target with six overs to go was 80, and Pollard (24, 16b, 1x4, 2x6) quickly reduced the deficit with a couple of big sixes off Jadeja - the second one nearly landing on the roof.
However, Sir Jadeja (three for 31) is not too bad when it comes to pulling the rabbit out of the hat either, and the left-arm spinner got the wicket of Pollard a couple of balls later, with the West Indian finding Hussey at square-leg while trying to flick one to the boundary.
The match was as good as over from there, with Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga falling to Purple Cap holder Dwayne Bravo as the Mumbai Indians surrendered tamely to hand CSK a place in the finals; but at least they live to fight another day.
The first innings went a lot better than CSK could have envisaged, with the IPL's most successful side dominating from start to finish.
Hussey - what more can you say about the man - was at his imperious best again, with Murali Vijay, for a while, and then Raina playing their parts in brilliant fashion to take their side beyond 190.
Vijay and Hussey got the innings rolling along nicely, putting on 52 for the first wicket, with Hussey, in particular, playing some delectable shots in the powerplay overs.
A couple of cover drives off Malinga, was pure poetry in motion, as CSK looked to bat the Mumbai Indians out of the game - if that is possible in T20.
Vijay was dismissed in the eighth over by Pollard, with the CSK opener holing out to Smith at deep square-leg while attempting his favorite pickup shot.
From there, the Mumbai Indians bowlers and indeed fielders might have just sat back with the crowd - not that there were any seats available with the stadium bursting at its seams - and watched a masterclass from CSK's left-handed awesome twosome Hussey and Raina, with the duo combining for a stunning unbroken 140 runs in 12.4 overs.
Both players played some brilliant cricket shots, taking the singles and twos and waiting for the relatively bad balls to put it in between the fielders or over the fence.
Mumbai Indians' two fast bowlers, the team's most potent duo with the ball - Malinga and Johnson - went for 45 and 40 runs each without taking a single wicket, which highlighted the superiority of the two CSK batsmen.
Raina looked in the mood right from the off, and flicked that overdrive switch so easily in the final few overs to take his strike rate to near 200, eventually finishing on an unbeaten 82 from 42 balls (5x4, 5x6).
Hussey matched his partner stroke for stroke as well in his 58-ball 86 (10x4, 2x6) as CSK scored 67 runs from the final five overs - 123 in ten overs - including 19 runs off the final over from T20 and yorker specialist Malinga.
To contact the editor, e-mail: