That Sachin Tendulkar is the backbone of most teams that he plays for is not a hidden fact. And it was once again brought to bear as Chennai Super Kings were like lions waiting for their prey once Sachin gave way.
The mauling was astonishing as it was impressive. The one man really who could have stood between Chennai and a possible race to the IPL 3 semi finals with two more points was none other than the Mumbai Indians captain himself.
It has become rather obvious that in high temperatures and humid weather, most cricketers were succumbing to the oppression of the heat rather the quality of the opposition. And it was testing the fittest. From the very beginning of the chase as MI were looking at a target of 166, Tendulkar seemed sapped of energy and struggling to run.
And while he remained the top scorer of the innings with forty-five, the majority of his runs were scored even as he struggled. But time was of critical essence and as Tendulkar struggled to come to terms, time was slipping out. And the CSK team were not complaining. Putting pressure by bowling well, they took advantage of the dot balls to raise the run rate as balls were consumed.
Ultimately it took a strategic time out for Tendulkar to decide perhaps a fitter man on the day deserved to take the table toppers home. But perhaps the dug out has been too accustomed to sitting and watching him in action and were overwhelming by the task that had become enormous.
And the Chennai team were beginning to sense a foot in the door and threw their weight behind it. The result was a sudden collapse as the likes of Shadab Jakati and Balchandran Ashwin, who were gambled upon to replace Muttiah Muralitharan, turned the tide in Chennai’s favour.
The MI team collapsed in a heap and it was embarrassing given that they had the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard in their line up and still could not force the issue. Six wickets fell for just twenty-three runs once Tendulkar left retired hurt and by the time he decided to come back, the match was firmly in control of the hosts. Thilan Thushara claimed the first wicket of Shikar Dhawan and came back later to scalp Tendulkar himself.
Earlier in the day, Chennai were dependent heavily on their top order and it was not without a wobble that Chennai did get to 165 in the first place. Matthew Hayden played his part but could only score thirty-five runs; Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Michael Hussey, inducted for this match, should have contributed more than their cameos but in the end, the CSK ensured that the total would be more than worthwhile as they romped home by twenty-four runs, MI folding on 141, even Harbhajan Singh’s attempted heroics for thirty-three runs thwarted by the enormity of the target and Doug Bollinger.
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