From a stunning high, the Mumbai Indians were brought back down to earth, and then some, by the we-just-know-how-to-win-big-games Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2014 Eliminator on Wednesday.
A packed-to-the-seams crowd at the Brabourne Stadium had come in hoping for some more unbelievable hitting from their home side the Mumbai Indians, but what they saw was some brilliant death bowling from CSK, and even better chasing-down-the-score batting as MI were left a completely deflated.
Chasing down a target of 174, after MI fumbled their way to 173 for eight, when in reality it should have been at 15-20 runs more, CSK barely put a foot wrong as a brilliant unbeaten fourth-wicket partnership of 89 runs from 55 balls from Suresh Raina (54 n.o., 32b, 4x4, 2x6) and David Hussey (40 n.o., 29b, 2x4, 3x6) saw them home with considerable ease and 8 balls to spare.
While the Kings XI Punjab have a chance at redemption, after their big loss to the Kolkata Knight Riders, there are no such second chances for the Mumbai Indians, who only have that incredible win against the Rajasthan Royals to now fall back upon as they saw their IPL title defence end in a whimper.
The chase began in expected fashion really, with Dwayne Smith and Faf Du Plessis, preferred at the top to the returning Brendon McCullum, looking to take to the MI bowlers early on and set the tone for the rest of their batsmen.
However, Praveen Kumar started proceedings exceedingly well, looking more and more like the bowler who was an India regular not too long ago, swinging the ball both ways. Both Smith and Du Plessis struggled to read Kumar's swing, with Smith in particular looking in trouble on more than a few occasions, while also being extremely lucky not to be given lbw in the third over of the innings.
Du Plessis (35, 20b, 5x4, 1x6) also had a life or two, and the CSK openers rode their luck to storm to 60 after the first 36 deliveries. Smith (24, 20b, 4x4), though, was struggling to find the middle of the bat, and try as he might that night was just not going to be his, with Harbhajan Singh, off the second delivery after the Powerplay, inducing a big stroke from the West Indian, with Kieron Pollard doing the rest at long-on.
Harbhajan would bring MI right back into the game a few deliveries later by picking up Du Plessis, who went for an ill-advised shot over the top and only managed to find substitute fielder Ben Dunk at long-off.
From 60 for no loss in six, CSK went to 64 for two in seven, with the onus on Suresh Raina, the India captain for the Bangladesh series, and Brendon McCullum to build a partnership.
McCullum, hit on the grill early by his compatriot Corey Anderson off a wicked short delivery, took on the aggressor's role, looking to dominate the spinners, who were getting turn and bounce on the Brabourne wicket. However, after a couple of sixes, one a lucky one, McCullum's desire to smash everything out of the ground ended up in his wicket, as Pragyan Ojha got his man via a stumping.
At McCullum's wicket, the equation was 87 from 63 balls, and MI looked to pile on the pressure with their spinners, with the batsmen finding Harbhajan extremely difficult to get away.
However, Raina and David Hussey, playing against his brother Michael, saw off the threat from Harbhajan (4-0-27-2), while bringing the target down to 65 from 42 deliveries, and waiting patiently for the faster bowlers to be brought in to take advantage.
David Hussey, who was on 11 from 15 deliveries heading into the final ball of the 15th over, exploded to stunning effect, smoking three sixes in his next four deliveries, with Raina also joining in the fun as CSK thumped Praveen Kumar and Pragyan Ojha for 34 runs combined.
Those big overs pretty much sealed the deal for CSK, with the target coming down to an easy peasy 22 from 24 balls, which was comfortably dispatched by the experienced duo.
Earlier, Lendl Simmons was the main man once again for MI, scoring a quickfire half-century to lead his side to a sizeable total.
Simmons and Michael Hussey, the recently successful opening duo, got MI off to a rollicking start, with both batsmen finding the boundaries at will.
Michael Hussey would have been extra motivated to perform against the team he enjoyed so many glory days with, and the left-hander looked in the mood racing MI to 53 in the first six Powerplay overs.
Simmons (67, 44b, 5x4, 4x6) and Michael Hussey (39, 33b, 4x4, 1x6) set MI up for a big score by putting on 76 in 9.4 overs, with Corey Anderson sent in at No.3, following Hussey's wicket, bowled by Ravindra Jadeja, to keep the momentum going.
Anderson did that in his 10-ball 20-run cameo, smoking a couple of sixes along with a boundary. Once the New Zealander holed out in the deep, Simmons took over, tonking a few maximums to great effect, with Rohit Sharma (20, 16b, 3x4) also joining in with a couple of delightfully elegant boundaries of his own.
However, once Simmons was picked up by Jadeja (4-0-31-2) in the 17th over, the solid concrete block suddenly turned into a house of cards.
One wicket after one wicket fell in the final overs, as MI, from 145 for three at the end of 17 overs, tumbled and fumbled their way to 173 for eight, when at one point they looked nailed-on for a score near 200, with Mohit Sharma (three for 42) grabbing three wickets to make up for conceding 19 runs in his second over.
Those final overs in the end proved to be the difference, as CSK cruised home, with KXIP now lying in wait on Friday.