Levi powers Mumbai to victory over Chennai in IPL opener

Vineet Ramakrishnan

Chennai: South African Richard Levi’s powerful fifty off 35 balls put Chennai Super Kings on the mat as Mumbai Indians defeated the hosts and defending champions for the first time in Chennai in 4 years on Wednesday.

Chasing a modest target of 112, the odds were in favour of Mumbai and when the imposing structure of Richard Levi started to open up during the powerplay overs with some lusty hitting, the fate of the match was all but sealed.

The M. A. Chidambram track, which had been the den of CSK had a very different look for the IPL 5 opener as a slow rank turner had a tinge of green over it. The ‘un-Chennai’ wicket as put by James Franklin backfired for the hosts. The wicket was unpredictable and by putting Chennai to bat first, Harbhajan made a smart decision and assessed how the pitch might behave. The double paced wicket had a bit for both the slower bowlers and the quicks.

It was not the spectacular start to the IPL jamboree, but Richard Levi ensured that the Chennai crowd had some fireworks to witness. Plucked by Mumbai after his T20 international exploits for South Africa, Levi played according to the reputation and blew away the meager challenge that CSK could have put up early on, defending 112.

The opening partnership of 69 runs off 47 balls between Levi and Sachin set the tone of the chase as Ambati Rayadu’s direct hit to dismiss Faf du Plessis in the first over had given Mumbai the momentum first up.

Mumbai got the momentum going and CSK lost wickets at regular intervals. Their star player, Suresh Raina played his part clubbing 36 runs off 26 balls as Murali Vijay struggled in the middle.

New recruit Pragyan Ojha was the wrecker in-chief with the ball for Mumbai and along with Kerion Pollard, he choked the CSK batters during the middle overs. The duos’ combined 8 overs yielded just 32 runs and four wickets. Mumbai were also very sharp in the field effecting three run outs.

So, it is a winning start for the new Mumbai Indians captain, Harbhajan Singh, but an injury scare for Sachin Tendulkar after he was hit on the fingers from a nasty Bollinger bouncer might as well prove to be a setback. On the other hand, Chennai are known to be slow starters and their rustic performance here could very well be the only one of the tournament.