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KOLKATA: An IPL season of allegedly rampant malpractices drew to an insipid close on Sunday night as Mumbai Indians destroyed Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs at the Eden Gardens to win their maiden domestic Twenty20 title.
The final match of a season that saw arrests of players and team personnel in connection with spot-fixing and that brought BCCI’s autocratic honcho N. Srinivasan to the brink of elimination from the powerful body – was almost anti-climactic.
Sachin's last IPL?
But as Mumbai players streamed on to the field in celebration, Sachin Tendulkar let slip a shocker to Harsha Bhogle in conversation that this might have been his last IPL season.
"I had to wait 21 long years for the World Cup and six years for the IPL. It has been an enjoyable journey and it's never too late. But I'm forty and this is the right time to stop playing IPL," he said.
Tendulkar did not play the final and the last few games this season on account of having suffered a tendon injury to the left hand.
Those expecting a crowd invasion in protest of the suspected murky dealings in IPL, or even a cracking contest, were disappointed. Kieron Pollard’s 32-ball 60 first rescued Mumbai from 52/4 in the tenth over to a respectable 148/9 on a pitch not entirely conducive to shot-making.
This was followed by Mumbai’s masterly pace bowling combination of Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson – in tandem with Harbhajan Singh's and Pragyan Ojha's slower offerings – reducing Chennai to 58/8 inside the 12th over, the contest moving steadily in the direction of the team's second consecutive defeat in an IPL final.
As much credit as goes to Pollard, and the stabilizing 48-run stand he shared with Ambati Rayudu (37), Mumbai owe their first IPL win equally to Lasith Malinga, whose blistering spell with the new ball destroyed Chennai’s pursuit in nascence. The Lankan slinger bowled Orange Cap holder Michael Hussey with a yorker and bounced out the prolific Suresh Raina in the first over of the chase.
Chennai descended to 3/3 when S. Badrinath chased Johnson’s wide to the ‘keeper. Batsman after batsman seemed intent on giving up their wicket, and skipper MS Dhoni played the lone fighting hand in a losing cause with a 45-ball 63, including five sixes, but it was all in vain as his team ended on 125/9, its dreams of a third title win up in smoke.
Mumbai faced no little trouble of their own when they elected to bat. Chennai’s medium pace trio of Albie Morkel, Mohit Sharma and Chris Morris were outstanding and made early inroads - Aditya Tare, Rohit Sharma, and Dwayne Smith were all out cheaply - and then Dwayne Bravo claimed four wickets to finish with a record IPL season tally of 32 and the Purple Cap.
Bravo, however, leaked 42 in his four overs as Pollard and Rayudu put on the only partnership of note. The West Indian was in sublime form, picking fours off the slower bowlers and reaching his half-century off 31 balls in the last over of the innings. Pollard hit the last two deliveries, bowled by Bravo, for huge sixes, ending Mumbai's innings on a positive note, one they carried with them when they began to bowl.