The 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) began with a cracking match between the defending champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings who marked a return to the league after a 2-year ban. The opening ceremony set it up beautifully for the capacity crowd at the Wankhede Stadium and to add to the excitement, the match ended in a nail-biting finish.
MS Dhoni, returning as the captain of CSK won the toss and opted to field on the pitch that had a fair amount of grass cover. The ball swung around in the beginning and Deepak Chahar and Shane Watson made it difficult for the MI openers. Rohit Sharma struggled to find the touch and his partner Evin Lewis, the debutant, departed without scoring courtesy Chahar.
Yadav-Kishan’s rebuild, Pandyas’ finish
Rohit too fell prey Watson soon for 15 off 18 balls as the hosts were left reeling at 20/2 in the 4th over. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav came together and did the rebuilding job pretty well. The duo bailed the side out of trouble and provided the stability. Both of them struck the ball well and matched each other shot for stroke to construct a partnership of 78.
Yadav and Kishan got out after scoring 43 and 40 respectively and set it up superbly for the lower middle-order. It was then time for the Pandya brothers to take over. While the elder got going from the outset, the younger didn’t have the best of times in the middle. Krunal played a lovely cameo of 41 off 22 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes. Hardik could utter 22 off 20 balls but MI reached a competitive total of 165/4 at the end of 20 overs.
CSK got off to a good start as Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu cleared the initial jitters against the swinging ball. Hardik, who had struggled with the bat, made a brilliant comeback and removed Watson for 16 in the 4th over. The outing got even better for the pacer after he sent back the danger man Suresh Raina for 4 runs.
In the age of wrist spinners, a new youngster added himself to the elite list as Mayank Markande showcased his absolute brilliance with leg-spin. He trapped Rayudu in front of the wickets courtesy a googly and then did the same to Dhoni as CSK were in stutters at 51/4 in the 9th over. Ravindra Jadeja’s stay at the crease was ended by Mustafizur Rahman and then Markande added to his wickets tally by getting Deepak Chahar out stumped.
Bravo’s magical turnaround
It was all downhill for CSK as MI didn’t offer even a sniff until that point. Mitchell McClenaghan accounted for Harbhajan’s wicket and Hardik bagged his 3rd in the form of Mark Wood. Amidst all the downfalls, Dwayne Bravo was fighting the lone battle and kept the team in the hunt. The equation got down to 47 from 3 overs and that’s when the Caribbean unleashed himself.
He smacked McClenaghan for 2 sixes and a four in the 18th over and then took Jasprit Bumrah to the cleaners by slamming 3 sixes in the penultimate over. It was down to 7 from 7 with 2 wickets remaining and to add to the drama, Bravo got out off the final ball of the over after scoring 68 off 30 balls with 3 fours and 7 sixes. Kedar Jadhav, who had retired hurt earlier due to a hamstring injury, came out to bat in the last over.
He found himself on the strike with 7 runs required against Mustafizur. The right-hander was in no state to run and had to do it with boundaries. The first 3 balls went straight to the fielders without yielding a run. Jadhav paddled one for a six to fine leg to leave 1 to get from 2. Then, a cover drive to the fence sealed it for CSK as they won by just 1 wicket with a ball in hand. It proved to be the ideal start for the tournament and it promises to get even better.
Chennai Super Kings won the toss and opted to bowl first
Mumbai Indians: 165/4 in 20 overs
Suryakumar Yadav 43, Krunal Pandya 41*
Shane Watson 29/2, Deepak Chahar 14/1
Chennai Super Kings: 169/9 in 19.5 overs
Dwayne Bravo 68, Kedar Jadhav 24*
Mayank Markande 23/3, Hardik Pandya 24/3
Chennai Super Kings won by 1 wicket
Player of the Match: Dwayne Bravo