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McCullum powers CSK to easy win

In MS Dhoni’s 100th IPL game, Brendon McCullum powered Chennai Super Kings to an easy seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in Game 13 of IPL 7 at the Dubai International cricket stadium on Friday night, taking his team to the top of the points table.

In what was also MI skipper Rohit Sharma’s 100th IPL game, the 26-year-old tasted defeat a third time in as many games with his team dishing out another below par performance. MI failed to defend a total of 141 as McCullum blitzed his way to an unbeaten 71 in 53 balls. Despite Rohit’s 41-ball 50, MI failed to get going in the slog overs scoring just 33 runs, losing five wickets and ending up 10-20 runs short.

After the CSK bowlers did a commendable job with the ball, led by medium-pacer Mohit Sharma’s 4 for 14, openers McCullum and Dwayne Smith (29, 22 balls, 4×6) got CSK off to a brisk start scoring 51 runs in the Powerplay overs closing down any chance of a possible MI comeback early on. Smith started off the chase playing a maiden from Pragyan Ojha but launched the spinner for two sixes in the third over.

McCullum also showed aggression clobbering two back-to-back boundaries of Zaheer Khan in the fourth over. Despite Smith’s departure in the sixth over to Ojha and Suresh Raina’s quick fall for 1 in the eighth, McCullum looked unperturbed and maintained the assault not allowing MI bowlers to take control.

McCullum joined forces with Faf du Plessis (20) with a 53-run stand for the third wicket as rival skipper Rohit ran out of ideas to contain the New Zealand batsman. He held back Lasith Malinga after giving him one over in the Powerplay and by the time the Sri Lankan was introduced again, McCullum was well set on 37 off 26 balls.

MI got sluggish on the field and dropped Du Plessis twice in one Harbhajan Singh over. Hussey also missed a run-out of Dhoni (14*) as CSK went on to chase down the target with an over to spare. McCullum hit eight fours and two sixes in his match-winning innings. Only Harbhajan looked effective for MI ending up with figures of 4-0-27-2.

Earlier, after opting to bat first, MI were dealt with an early blow once again with Michael Hussey continuing his poor run of form this season when he was castled by a peach of a delivery from Ben Hilfenhaus in the second over. The ball pitched on good length and nipped away a touch rattling the timber.

The next batsman Aditya Tare tried to disrupt the rhythm of the CSK opening bowlers taking two boundaries each of Hilfenhaus and Ishwar Pandey through the offside before first change bowler Mohit ended the wicketkeeper’s 23-run cameo. Tare mistimed his first shot of the day lobbing a back of length delivery to mid-on. Skipper Rohit then combined with Corey Anderson for an 84-run stand for the third wicket.

Anderson, promoted up the order at number three, started off a bit scratchy but managed to rotate the strike with Rohit looking in good touch. Between overs 11 to 15, MI got 47 runs which was their best phase of the game. Just when the team looked all set to accelerate in the slog overs, a direct hit from Ravichandran Ashwin had the New Zealand allrounder walking back to the pavilion for 39, opening the floodgates for CSK.

Mohit and Pandey bowled excellent second spells in the death to keep MI at bay and the pressure created bore fruit with the wicket of Rohit for 50 in the 18th over as a mistimed pull went straight to Dwayne Smith at square leg.

Mohit then got rid of Ambati Rayudu (1), the dangerous Kieron Pollard (12) and Harbhajan Singh (0) in the 19th over conceding just two runs off the over. MI managed a below par 141 for 7 in their 20 overs with the last five overs yielding 33 runs at the expense of five wickets.

Brief Scores: MI 141 for 7 (Rohit Sharma 50, Corey Anderson 39; Mohit Sharma 4 for 14) lost to CSK 142 for 3 (Brendon McCullum 71*, Dwayne Smith 29; Harbhajan Singh 2/27) by seven wickets.

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