The Chennai skipper hit a 20-ball 51 and then took three catches to help his side eliminate Mumbai Indians from IPL 5.
MUMBAI INDIANS INNINGS
20th over: MI 149 for 9. Chennai Super Kings eliminate Mumbai Indians by 38 runs. Fireworks light up the Bangalore sky! Fair to say Mumbai have been outplayed - chiefly by the CSK skipper MS Dhoni (51 runs and 3 catches) and Dwayne Bravo (33 runs and 2 for 10).
The result also means that there will no automatic qualification for Mumbai in the CLT20; they will have to go through the qualifiers.
Lasith Malinga b Jadeja 17 (16)
19th over: MI 142 for 8. Malinga and Kulkarni collecting some gifted runs as Chennai relax a little with the writing on the wall. 46 needed off 6 balls.
18th over: MI 129 for 8. Darren Bravo wins the battle of Trinidad and Tobago. He beats Pollard with change of pace and the resultant skier is pocketed easily by Raina. What more, Bravo gives the fellow West Indian a gentle send-off.
Kieron Pollard c Raina b Bravo 16 (19)
17th over: MI 125 for 7. Drama! Hilfenhaus goes through Pollard's slog to bowl him but umpire Billy Bowden asks the TV umpire to check if Hilfenhaus has stepped over. And to CSK's utter dismay, there is nothing behind the front crease. Pollard is called back. But hard to believe if it will change the course of the match. 63 needed off 18.
16th over: MI 117 for 7. Bravo's change of pace is a bit too much guesswork for Malinga, and Pollard denying a single shows Mumbai have conceded defeat at one end. 71 needed off 24.
15th over: MI 112 for 7. Mumbai succumbing now. Harbhajan is walking back to the dug-out after Hilfenhaus gets among the wickets, courtesy a superb back-paddling effort by Suresh Raina in the point region. Pollard is Mumbai's last hope now as he shows with that mis-hit six on the last ball of the over. 76 needed off 30 balls.
Harbhajan Singh c Raina b Hilfenhaus 1 (4)
14th over: MI 103 for 6. Dhoni brings in Dwayne Bravo to the bowling crease who doesn't wait long to take off for his celebratory run as James Franklin under-edges one for Dhoni to take his third catch of the innings. Bravo follows it up by rattling Harbhajan with a bouncer that crashes into Mumbai skipper's helmet.
James Franklin c Dhoni b Bravo 13 (13)
13th over: MI 101 for 5. Hundred up for Mumbai, but it's looking increasingly difficult for Harbhajan Singh's team that needs over 12 runs an over to pull it off with five wickets in hand.
12th over: MI 97 for 5. Another Mumbai batsman perishes under the pressure of this huge chase. Rayudu's search for quick runs ends in the hands of Murali Vijay at the deep mid-wicket boundary, who does a bit of a Bravo jig after completing the catch. Pollard and Franklin now have to do what Dhoni and Bravo did for Chennai. 91 needed off 48 balls.
Ambati Rayudu c Vijay b Ashwin 11 (7)
11th over: MI 90 for 4. Morkel hurts Mumbai further as he gets the dangerous Rohit Sharma out. Dhoni completes another neat catch. However, Rayudu's four and Franklin's pulled six over backward square-leg damage Morkel's figures somewhat.
Rohit Sharma c Dhoni b Morkel 14 (19)
10th over: MI 77 for 3. Ashwin into his second over; and by keeping it down to five runs, he has ensured that the required run-rate for Mumbai is pushed above 11 runs per over.
9th over: MI 72 for 3. Morkel strikes first ball. Karthik tries to open the blade but only manages to edge it into Dhoni's gloves. Just four runs off the over turns it into an even better start for Morkel.
Dinesh Karthik c Dhoni b Morkel 6 (4)
8th over: MI 68 for 2. Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma at the crease now as Dhoni brings his second left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja to bowl. Barring that long hop that Karthik dispatched to the mid-wicket boundary, a decent start by Jadeja.
7th over: MI 60 for 2. Smith departs! Jakati ends his excellent spell on a wicket-taking note. The dangerous Smith's attempted slog turns into a top-edge that finds the point fielder running back to take a fine catch. What a spell by Jakati: 4-0-25-1.
Dwayne Smith c Jadeja b Jakati 38 (22)
6th over: MI 54 for 1. Ashwin into the attack and bowls a good over until that last ball that Smith sweeps to the fine-leg fence.
5th over: MI 47 for 1. Tendulkar gets run out. The master sacrifices his wicket for the free-scoring Dwayne Smith who ran towards the striker's end with Tendulkar not interested after hitting it straight to the point fielder. Both batsmen stranded at one end.
Sachin Tendulkar run out 11 (11)
4th over: MI 41 for no loss. Hilfenhaus is clearly suffering from the scars Smith inflicted in their last battle. Two fours and a six off that over have ensured a rollicking start for Mumbai, who are chasing 188 to win.
3rd over: MI 27 for no loss. Jakati continues his good work, keeps it to seven runs in the over despite conceding a four off the first ball to Tendulkar, who cuts it through the point region.
2nd over: MI 20 for no loss. Hilfenhaus runs in from the other end and Bravo welcomes him with a flick over the mid-wicket for another four, and then makes it even better with a top-edged six to end the over.
1st over: MI 6 for no loss. Jakati has been entrusted with the responsibility to open the attack. And with Dwayne Smith there with Sachin Tendulkar, all we can expect is attack. And the West Indian makes his intentions clearly with one smacked through the covers for Mumbai's first boundary.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS INNINGS
20th over: CSK 187 for 5. CSK innings ends with a mayhem. Bravo matches Dhoni's helicopter shot with a six that he sent over the covers boundary off balance and both feet almost off the ground. Mumbai players look clueless at this point. What a turnaround from being 1 for 2 in the second over.
126 runs have been scored in the last 10 overs, with the Dhoni-Bravo partnership adding 73 runs in just 4.5 overs. Dhoni remained not out at 51 off 20 balls and Bravo too walks back undefeated at 33 off 14.
19th over: CSK 168 for 5. Malinga steams in for his last over. What happens next? Bravo smokes him over the covers for a four, Dhoni brings out his helicopter shot which turns a yorker on the off stump into a drilled six over the mid-wicket and the over ends with another boundary that Bravo sends one bounce into the mid-wicket boundary. 18 runs off Malinga's last over. His figures 4-0-41-0.
18th over: CSK 150 for 5. RP Singh has bowled out here with a nine-run over, which includes a four from Dhoni creamed over the extra-cover region. CSK must be eyeing 170 plus now.
17th over: CSK 141 for 5. Malinga is bowling his 13th over, but Dhoni is in a zone as he drills the low full-toss for another four through the mid-wicket boundary. Bravo joins in the fun by glancing the full-toss on his pads past the fine-leg placed inside the circle. In all, 13 runs off that over. Dhoni on 32 off 12 balls.
16th over: CSK 128 for 5. Jadeja's wicket in this over happens to be the lull before the Dhoni storm. After Jadeja gifted his wicket away to Kulkarni, Dhoni smashed the medium-pacers for three breathtaking fours: straight behind the bowler, drilled through the covers, pulled to fine leg.
Ravindra Jadeja c Sharma b Kulkarni 1 (2)
15th over: CSK 114 for 4. Hussey walks back to the dug-out. Harbhajan surprises by bringing Franklin to bowl but the Kiwi gets the prized scalp. The flick from Hussey looked set to clear the square-leg fielder but Kulkarni runs in to pluck it from nowhere. But Dhoni's isn't one bit worried as he sends the length ball onto the room of the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Michael Hussey c Kulkarni b Franklin 49 (39)
14th over: CSK 102 for 3. Badrinath falls after a valiant 47. Pollard gets his man caught at long-on by Rohit Sharma. But Dhoni picks one off his legs nonchalantly to get off the mark with a boundary.
S Badrinath c Sharma b Pollard 47 (39)
13th over: CSK 94 for 2. RP Singh is in the line of fire as Hussey lofts him for two consecutive boundaries - first off a juicy full toss on the pads that Hussey sends between the long-on and mid-wicket boundary and then comes a hard pull shot that meets its fate at the mid-wicket boundary boards.
12th over: CSK 82 for 2. Harbhajan brings his trump card Malinga back into the attack. But Chennai, it seems, have it covered as they are not eyeing big strokes against Malinga. Just two runs off that over but CSK won't mind as long as they don't give the Sri Lankan any wickets.
11th over: CSK 80 for 2. It's getting better and better for Chennai. 19 runs off that Harbhajan over that reads 1, 1, 6, 1, 6, 4. So after conceding one run in his first two overs, Harbhajan's figures now read 3-0-20-0.
10th over: CSK 61 for 2. It's heating up big time in the middle between Pollard and Badrinath, who hits the West Indian for two consecutive boundaries. And that after Hussey deposited Pollard for a four to the mid-wicket boundary on the first ball of the over. 14 runs off those six balls.
9th over: CSK 47 for 2. Dwayne Smith is running in now and bowls a perfect over except conceding an unlucky four that goes off the under-edge of Badrinath's bat to crash into the fine-leg boundary boards.
8th over: CSK 41 for 2. Pollard has been pressed into service by Harbhajan and the West Indian responds well by keeping it to just five runs off his first over.
7th over: CSK 36 for 2. It seems CSK have their eyes set on a boundary an over. And this time it's Badrinath who makes sure that the RP Singh over is not spared of that boundary. His attempted pull takes an under-edge and beats wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik to fine-leg for a four.
6th over: CSK 30 for 2.: Malinga has the ball in his hand but Hussey has made up his mind to play his shots. Nice drive through the extra-cover region for a boundary forces Malinga to shorten his length right away.
5th over: CSK 22 for 2. Harbhajan is off and RP Singh is on. But good, positive intent by Hussey brings Chennai two more boundaries. The first one is edged to the third-man boundary but the second one is a help-yourself delivery with lots of room for Hussey to open his shoulders and smash it over the covers.
4th over: CSK 14 for 2. Kulkarani almost struck again as Badrinath's attempt to come down the track takes an outside edge and goes agonisingly past the first slip for a boundary at fine third-man. Badrinath repeats the shot again in the over and finally pulls it off with a nice straight drive past mid-off.
3rd over: CSK 4 for 2. Harbhajan is keeping it nice and tight at the other hand. No easy runs here for Chennai as the Mumbai skipper bowls a maiden.
2nd over: CSK 3 for 2. Dhawal Kulkarni strikes with his first two balls. First, he nails Vijay with a nice juicy out-swinger pitched up that Vijay nicked straight to Rohit Sharma in the slips. Then Kulkarni follows it by inducing an inside-edge off Raina on a ball that is outside the off stump and Raina's poke takes an edge that crashes into the stumps. This boy is making the ball talk.
Murali Vijay c Sharma b Kulkarni 1 (5)
Suresh Raina b Kulkarni 0 (1)
1st over: CSK 1 for no loss. Harbhajan opening for Mumbai, bowling to Mike Hussey. Lots of energy in the ground that is packed to the rafters. Excellent first over by the Mumbai skipper, just one off.
7:45 p.m. Harbhajan has opted to go in with an unchanged side from their last match, while Chennai have brought in S Badrinath for Anirudha Srikkanth and Shadab Jakati in place of Yo Mahesh.
Chennai Super Kings: Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(capt/wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Albie Morkel, S Badrinath, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shadab Jakati, Ben Hilfenhaus
Mumbai Indians: Dwayne Smith, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ambati Rayudu, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh (capt), Lasith Malinga, Dhawal Kulkarni, RP Singh
7:30 p.m. Mumbai Indians win the toss! MS Dhoni calls it wrong and Harbhajan Singh says Mumbai Indians will field first. Dhoni says he would have fielded as well.
7:15 p.m. Welcome once again to the Live IPL-5 coverage of Cricketnext.com, and this is it for Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings - anyone who loses today in the Eliminator can kiss a goodbye to their dreams of lifting the trophy this season.
While Chennai have to thank RCB for making it to the playoffs, Mumbai have been a little more impressive, though not by much, than the defending champions. The winner of today's match will live another day to face the Delhi Daredevils in the second qualifier.
Minutes away from the toss, it's worth taking a look at the two teams' road to the playoffs in our preview of today's game.