Mumbai Indians skipper Harbhajan Singh has admitted that it was Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's whirlwind 20-ball 51-run knock that proved to be the turning point of the IPL eliminator in Bangalore.
Thanks to Dhoni's blistering innings, the defending champions romped into the second qualifiers with a comfortable 38-run victory over Mumbai Indians last night.
"Dhoni's knock was the turning point of the match and if we had got him out earlier, the match could have gone in Mumbai Indians' favour," Harbhajan said after his team crashed out of the IPL 5.
"The crucial 50-odd runs from Dhoni's bat took the game away from us," he added.
Harbhajan also said that losing four wickets between 7-12 overs also turned out to be costly for his team.
"We lost Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith in two overs. In next few overs we also lost Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik. They are core of our batting lineup and losing them in quick succession had put the team under pressure," he said.
Insisting that things could have been different if Rohit had batted till the 18th over, Harbhajan said, "We didn't want to be five down in 13 overs when we are chasing 180," he said.
Chasing the stiff target of 188, Mumbai could muster only 149 for nine in their stipulated 20 overs with opener Dwayne Smith (38) being the top-scorer.
Mumbai skipper also said that the Super Kings were a better side as far as both batting and bowling were concerned.
"In first two overs we picked up two early wickets and were in the game till the ninth over. We didn't bowl as well as we should have," said Harbhajan.
Chennai were 47 after nine overs but they amassed 140 runs off the last 11 overs to set Mumbai a stiff target.
Mumbai Indians started their chase well, but could not capitalise on the good start provided by their openers.
"We didn't play good cricket, but Chennai played much better cricket than us and they won," Harbhajan said.
Stating that the Mumbai outfit were confident of chasing down the target, but things didn't go well for the team in last four overs while bowling, Harbhajan said, "As an unit we were committed to chase this target because we had chased 170-odd runs against Bangalore in the previous game here."
Harbhajan also said that it was one of those days when Mumbai Indians didn't click as a team.
Asked whether decision to chase was a good ploy in a pressure match like the eliminator, Harbhajan said Mumbai Indians focussed more on winning than worrying about the outcome of the toss.
"I don't think I would have done something different after winning the toss. Even if I am given a chance tomorrow I would still like to chase here because it has small boundaries and it's not difficult to get ten runs in an over on the good batting track.
"Even Dhoni told after the toss that he would have opted to bowl first," said Harbhajan.