Mumbai Indians will play a third IPL final and look to clinch their second title after waltzing past Chennai Super Kings in their IPL 2015 Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
In a match that would have sent the winner straight into the IPL 2015 final, MI came up trumps with both bat and ball to overwhelm an unusually unimpressive CSK.
Choosing to bat first after winning the toss, Parthiv Patel and Lendl Simmons, yet again, gave MI a brilliant start, to the tune of 90 in a little over 10 overs.
That platform proved to be crucial in the end, as CSK threatened to stop MI at a below-par score after taking wickets of Parthiv (35, 25b, 4x4, 11x6), Simmons (65, 51b, 3x4, 5x6), Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya.
However, in stepped that big man Kieron Pollard, hitting sixes so easily that singles looked a lot more difficult to get to give MI the impetus again.
The West Indian is at his best when just given the license to go and smash-every-ball-out-of-the-stadium, and Pollard did just that to great effect.
While the rest of MI's middle and lower middle order struggled to really get going, Pollard was a force of nature, hitting five sixes and a boundary in his 17-ball stay of 41.
The Pollard innings proved to be absolutely crucial as it took MI from a below-par 170-odd to 187, which in the end proved to be too much to scale for CSK.
MS Dhoni and the rest of his flashy batsmen would have fancied to chase down the total, with 180 being about par on this wicket at the Wankhede. But, without Brendon McCullum to smash the living daylights out of the bowlers, the chase just did not transpire the way they would have imagined.
It all started to go pear-shaped in the first over, as umpire Richard Illingworth gave one of the worst lbw decisions you are ever likely to see with Dwayne Smith the unfortunate victim. A full ball from Lasith Malinga (4-0-23-3) was tailing away outside leg -- and that is well outside leg -- with the ball striking Smith on about fifth stump. However, the umpire, for some reason, thought that ball was hitting the stumps – it would have struggled to hit even the sixth stump – and an unlucky Smith had to walk.
Michael Hussey looked reasonably good in his 11-ball 16, but could not stay long enough, and even if Suresh Raina (25, 20b, 2x6) and Faf Du Plessis (45, 34b, 5x4, 1x6) looked like they had got CSK back on course with a 40-run partnership, once Harbhajan Singh (4-0-26-2) scalped Raina and MS Dhoni off consecutive deliveries in the 11th over, the match was as good as done.