Chennai: Chasing a low total of 113, Mumbai Indians were hardly troubled by the Chennai Super Kings bowlers and cruised to an 8-wicket win with 19 balls to spare.
Mumbai Indians' new signings, Pragyan Ojha and Richard Levi, made immediate impact to set up an easy win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the season opener. Richard Levi swiped his way to a 35-ball 50 in an easy chase, but it was Ojha who made the crucial contribution. He made a seamless transition from Deccan Chargers to Mumbai, taking two wickets in his first two overs to pull Super Kings just when they were threatening to break free.
Super Kings were 69 for 2, having made a bit of a comeback from a slow start, when Ojha was introduced in the 10th over, and three wickets in the next four overs - including those of danger men Suresh Raina and Dwayne Bravo - meant they could add only 43 in the rest of the piece. Kieron Pollard was a good deputy to Ojha, taking two wickets after the spinner had dismissed the settled batsmen.
Ojha's introduction was a pivotal moment in the game. Put in on a surprisingly green Chennai pitch - definitely not one that will impress IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla - Super Kings were just coming out of a period of struggle then. One of their big strikers, Murali Vijay, had taken six balls to get off the mark, and his anxiousness to do so had resulted in the run-out of fellow opener Faff du Plessis. Soon he himself fell to a slower ball from James Franklin.
At the other end, though, Raina enjoyed his homecoming to the tournament he revels most in, starting things off with a six over mid-off, the first of the tournament. Bravo joined in with two beautiful shots on the up off the bowling off Franklin, putting the pressure back on Mumbai. Both the batsmen were now confident enough to take risks off Ojha's bowling. Raina swept the first ball powerfully, Bravo slogged at the second, and drove the next inside-out for four. That was to be the last boundary of the innings.
Ojha refused to give them pace or flatness, and Raina, 36 off 26, picked out sweeper-cover off the fifth ball Ojha bowled. In Ojha's next, Bravo found long-on with similar precision to fall for a run-a-ball 19. Ojha, though, couldn't be kept out of the game. He soon caught the promoted Albie Morkel off the varied bowling off Pollard. In Ojha's last over, the 16th, MS Dhoni fell for a rare non-direct-hit run-out. It must have been some pressure of suffocation at work. Ojha finished with 2 for 17 in his four, and Pollard dismissed S Badrinath in his last to finish with figures of 2 for 15.
At 99 for 7 in the 17th over, with two Lasith Malinga overs left, no one would have expected an addition of many more than the eventual 13. The beefy Levi then charged out in the chase, swinging the shoulders, mostly to leg, hitting sixes off Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo. The pitch remained lively: Doug Bolinger hit both Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar with uneven bounce, forcing the latter to retire-hurt. Levi's explosive start, though, had done enough, and Mumbai cruised through with 3.1 overs to spare.