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IPL: Mumbai steamroll Chennai in opening match

Chennai: Captain Harbhajan Singh's decision to bowl first seemed to be spot on as Mumbai Indians bowled out defending champions Chennai Super Kings 112 in the opening match of IPL 2012, which Mumbai Indians reached in 16.5 overs.

It was an easy chase for Mumbai, with Richard Levi lighting up the MA Chidambaram stadium with some big hits in his debut IPL innings. The South African batsman scored a quick fifty in just 35 balls which included three sixes and six fours.

Sachin Tendulkar was also among the runs and looked set for a longer innings, but for an injury to his finger which forced him to leave the field retired hurt.

Rohit Sharma would have hoped to contribute more than just a zero, but Ambati Rayadu and James Franklin made sure the visitors reached their target comfortably.

Rayadu, who scored 18 runs in 18 balls hit a six over third-man to finish off the match in style.

The newly-laid 22-yard strip which had some patches of grass on either side turned out to be a nightmare for strokeplayers as most of the home team batsmen failed to check their shots as they were shot out for 19.4 overs.

Levi scored a fifty in his maiden IPL innings. AFP

While MI bowlers stuck to their task, CSK batsmen helped their cause as three of them including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni were run-out. Lasith Malinga (2/16), Pragyan Ojha (2/17) and Kieron Pollard (2/15) all got vital breakthroughs.

Mumbai Indians got the breakthrough in the very first over when Faf du Plessis (3) failed to beat Ambati Rayudu's direct throw after Murali Vijay tapped the ball to extra-cover for a quick single.

Vijay, who has had an indifferent first-class season was not in his element as he failed to clear the field. As he was getting bogged down, left-arm seamer James Franklin's clever change of pace did the trick.

The Tamil Nadu opener couldn't connect what has been a trademark flicked six over deep mid-wicket over the years.

Instead, rival skipper Harbhajan standing at the 30-yard circle gobbled of an easy catch. Vijay could muster only 10 runs off 17 balls.

Suresh Raina --- one of the biggest star in this format started well. Raina effortlessly lifted pacer Abu Nechim Ahmed over long-off for a six. He also hit a couple of boundaries on his way to 36 before Ojha sent him back into the dug-out.

As strokemaking looked difficult, Raina tried to give Ojha the charge but couldn't get the elevation and was holed out in the sweeper-cover region where Lasith Malinga was stationed.

At 75 for three, one expected Dwayne Bravo (3) to stem the rot but he also misjudged the track as he couldn't reach to the pitch of an Ojha delivery as he went for a lofted shot. Kieron Pollard took a well-judged running from long-on.

Pollard then made it 85 for five when he dug one short into Albie Morkel's (3) ribs and his 'Nataraja shot' went straight to Ojha at deep square-leg boundary.

Skipper Dhoni (4) who is one of the best judge of single was caught a foot short as he responded to S Badrinath's call for a single and gone were CSK's hopes of putting up a decent total.

Even though this was a disappointing defeat for Dhoni's squad, there is still a lot of cricket to be played.

With inputs from Agencies