Dubai - Keep your competition buried when they are down, say some. Chennai Super Kings, led by Mohit Sharma's best IPL figures and Brendon McCullum's second half-century in four matches, cemented their position near the top of the table with a crushing victory against defending champions Mumbai Indians, who are yet to register a win.
Super Kings had been alternating between good bowling and good batting performances in their previous three matches. In their fourth one though, they were strong with both bat and ball. As Mumbai Indians eyed a late surge in the last five overs, they lost their set batsmen, Rohit Sharma and Corey Anderson, in quick succession, before Mohit cleaned up the middle order in just one over to end up with figures of 4 for 14.
At the break, Mohit said it wouldn't be an easy chase for the Super Kings batsmen on the slow pitch. The way Dwayne Smith and McCullum played the first two overs suggested they had taken Mohit's advice seriously; only two runs came. However, with the words of their top performer honoured, Smith switched to his usual modus operandi, hitting three sixes in the next seven balls, all straight hits.
Once the chase was set in motion though, it was McCullum who took the front seat, blitzing powerful boundaries through extra cover and midwicket off successive Zaheer Khan deliveries. The sight of his fellow countryman Corey Anderson seemed to charge him up even more as he used his incredible bat speed to power three boundaries through the cover region.
With 51 runs in the Powerplay, Mumbai Indians' only chance in the match was to somehow dismantle the strong batting order. They did get a sniff as Smith and Suresh Raina departed in successive overs.
That was to have no effect on McCullum though, who, apart from giving respect to Lasith Malinga, kept on peppering the boundary regularly off other bowlers and brought up his half-century in 36 balls.
Super Kings were almost level with Mumbai Indians' score at the 15-over stage, but they were in no mood to commit the same errors and cantered past the target with an over to spare.
Mumbai Indians had much to thank Rohit and Anderson, who revived the innings with a measured 84-run stand for the third wicket after the early loss of their openers. Both batsmen found it tough to push the scoring early on. A six by Anderson off the last ball of the 10th over signalled some intent, but the scoring-rate still lingered below six an over.
Rohit picked up the scoring from there on though, smacking a couple of sixes over the leg side as 51 runs came off the next five overs. But all hopes of a late surge were dashed once Super Kings got an opening with the dismissal of Anderson.
Rohit, immediately after reaching his half-century, was caught in the deep off Ben Hilfenhaus and Mohit, in the 19th over, burst the balloon with three wickets, all with superbly controlled slower balls. The final total of 141 was 10 to 15 runs short of what Mumbai Indians would have eyed at one stage.
MEK Hussey b Hilfenhaus 1
AP Tare c Raina b Sharma 23
CJ Anderson run out 39
RG Sharma c Smith b Hilfenhaus 50
KA Pollard b Sharma 12
AT Rayudu c Raina b Sharma 1
CM Gautam not out 7
Harbhajan Singh c McCullum b Sharma 0
Z Khan not out 7
EXTRAS: (b 1) 1
TOTAL: (7 wickets; 20 overs) 141
FOW: 1-11, 2-25, 3-109, 4-123, 5-125, 6-127, 7-127
BOWLING: IC Pandey 4-0-21-0, BW Hilfenhaus 4-0-39-2, R Ashwin 4-0-20-0, MM Sharma 4-0-14-4, SK Raina 3-0-32-0, RA Jadeja 1-0-14-0.
DR Smith c Anderson b Ojha 29
BB McCullum not out 71
SK Raina st Gautam b Harbhajan 1
F du Plessis st Gautam b Harbhajan 20
MS Dhoni not out 14
EXTRAS: (lb 4, w 2, nb 1) 7
TOTAL: (3 wickets; 19 overs) 142
FOW: 1-57, 2-61, 3-114
Bowling: PP Ojha 4-1-25-1, Z Khan 4-0-31-0, SL Malinga 4-0-22-0, CJ Anderson 2-0-23-0, Harbhajan Singh 4-0-27-2, KA Pollard 1-0-10-0
UMPIRES: BF Bowden (NZ), M Erasmus (SA)
TV UMPIRE: S Ravi (Ind)
MATCH REFEREE: GF Labrooy (SL)