Champions fail to flatter in IPL opener

(SkySports) Richard Levi smashed a half-century in his Indian Premier League debut as the Mumbai Indians cruised to an emphatic eight-wicket victory in the tournament opener yesterday. New signing Levi was devastating with bat in hand as he knocked 50 off 35 balls at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

The South African, who rose to Twenty20 fame with his recent century for the Proteas in New Zealand hit three sixes to go with six boundaries as he helped the Indians to 69 without loss inside eight overs in their pursuit of Chennai’s modest 112 all out.

It was an uneven pitch in Chennai as Australian quick Doug Bollinger struck both Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar, forcing the latter to retire hurt. But Levi had already done the damage and even with the addition of Sharma’s wicket for a duck the visiting team had no problems and James Franklin (25 not out) and Ambati Rayudu (18 not out) knocked off the winning runs in the 17th over.

Earlier it was a top-class bowling performance from the Indians which left the Super Kings all out one ball shy of their 20 overs.

With Faf du Plessis (three) and Murali Vijay (10) in the hut early, Chennai had a chance to go on for a big score, but the contribution of another new man, Pragjan Ojha, thwarted the champions.

Joining the Indians from the Deccan Chargers, Ojha took the crucial wickets of Suresh Raina (36) and Dwayne Bravo (19) to put his side in command with the Super Kings at 85 for five.  A lower-order collapse which saw all of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin and big signing Ravindra Jadeja fail to reach double figures meant the home side were left to settle for the under-par 112 all out.

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