The usually efficient Chennai Super Kings batting imploded on a Feroz Shah Kotla pitch with variable bounce to give Trinidad and Tobago an easy target to chase down. T&T did so without much fuss, thereby booking their place in the Champions League Twenty20 2013 semifinals. The win, by eight wickets, was also achieved quickly enough for T&T to top Group B, setting up a date with Mumbai Indians at the same venue on Saturday. Chennai will have to make the trip to Jaipur for their semifinal against Rajasthan Royals on Friday. (Highlights)
Chennai, put in to bat, were shot out for 118 in 19.4 overs. A simple win was enough for T&T to reach the semis, but were they to win inside 17.4 overs, they would also top the Group and avoid Rajasthan in their impregnable den. With Lendl Simmons in outstanding touch after a hesitant start, T&T stormed to 119 for 2 in just 15.1 overs, doing more than enough to displace Chennai from the top of the group. (Pics)
It was hard to believe Chennai were batting on the same pitch where Dwayne Smith and Rohit Sharma had smashed Perth Scorchers into submission earlier on Wednesday (October 2). But that might have been because of the poor Perth bowling as well as the intent of the Mumbai batsmen, because Chennai struggled after some early enterprise shown by M Vijay and Suresh Raina.
Ravi Rampaul, as he has done often in the past, got the early breakthrough, swinging one into Mike Hussey's off stump to leave Chennai on 7 for 1. Vijay and Raina collaborated for 55 runs for the second wicket but though they scored at over a run-a-ball, the innings never got the impetus it needed. Importantly for T&T, they had managed to keep Chennai quiet despite not introducing Sunil Narine, their trump card, into the attack.
By the time Narine came in to bowl, in the 10th over, Vijay had dragged a loose delivery from Simmons on to his stumps after scoring 27 in 24 balls. Soon after, Raina's well-connected sweep off Simmons went straight to Rampaul at short fine leg, the batsman gone for 38 in 29 balls.
That put the entire onus of restructuring the innings on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's able shoulders, but Dhoni failed to get a move on and Chennai's problems were exacerbated by the regular loss of wickets at the other end. Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja both fell without making many and when Dhoni finally played a shot in anger, he holed out to Simmons at long on off Rayad Emrit.
Albie Morkel, S Badrinath and Jason Holder also went without contributing much and though R Ashwin smashed Rampaul for a six over long on, his comical run out - batless after a spot of confusion with Mohit Sharma - signalled the end of the innings. Emrit was the most successful of the T&T bowlers with 3 for 21 and Narine, though wicketless, gave away just 12 runs from his four overs.
T&T were never in a hurry and didn't need to take risks. There was the odd moment of uncertainty - Simmons edged the first ball of the innings off Ashwin between Dhoni and Raina at slip for a boundary and Jadeja later found Evin Lewis's edge, which deflected off Dhoni's gloves and went past Raina - but otherwise, Simmons and Lewis chipped away at the target merrily, saving the big hits for the 10th over when Simmons hit Jadeja for sixes over midwicket and long on as 19 came off the over.
The stutter came in the next over when Raina caught Lewis plumb in front with a quicker one for 38 after a stand of 79 for the first wicket. It could have gotten tricky had Badrinath, running in from long on, managed to hold on to a tough chance from Simmons off Jason Holder but, as it turned out, T&T were always in control of the chase.
Simmons sped things up towards the end with a few lusty hits, hitting five fours and four sixes before holing out at deep midwicket off Ashwin after scoring a 41-ball 63. He had hit Ashwin for a six off the previous delivery to move the total to within three of the target and clearly wanted to wrap things up with a big hit. Not to be, but the win came soon after, achieved with plenty to spare.