HARBHAJAN Singh’s meticulous off-spin sparked a middle-order batting collapse which enabled the Mumbai Indians to pull off a dramatic 25-run victory over the front-running Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier in the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, yesterday.
He took two wickets in two balls to stall the chase and saw the Super Kings fall from 86 for two to 162 all out, chasing 188. That target was set up by a solid opening stand of 90 by Lendl Simmons (65) and Parthiv Patel (35), which was finished off by Keiron Pollard’s 41 off 17 balls.
The Super Kings were on track to match the challenge when they ended the powerplay on 56 for two, losing Dwayne Smith to a very poor lbw decision in the first over and Mike Hussey (16) in the sixth.
Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina were repairing the damage when Harbhajan moved in, dismissing Raina, caught and bowled for 25, and the captain MS Dhoni. He could have had a third in that over, dropping Dwayne Bravo himself, off a powerful drive.
Then the innings collapsed, despite the efforts of Du Plessis who ended on 45 off 34.
Mumbai now have a few days off, while Chennai will travel to Ranchi to play in Qualifier 2 — scheduled to be played on Friday — which will feature the winner of the eliminator, between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals, being played today.