Chennai Super Kings entered the final of IPL6 by crushing Mumbai Indians by 48 runs in Qualifier 1 at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on Tuesday night.
Dhoni kept his cool to lead two-time champions Chennai to their fifth IPL final in six years romping to victory with eight balls to spare as Mumbai were all out for 144.
Chennai advanced to the final on May 26 while Mumbai will get a second chance when they clash with the winner of Wednesday's Eliminator (Rajasthan Royals v Sunrisers Hyderabad) in Qualifier 2 on May 24.
Chasing a stiff target of 193, Mumbai were comfortably placed at one stage despite losing Tare early.
Smith set Mumbai on their way with a brilliant knock of 68 off 28 balls with with six boundaries and five sixes during a dominant second wicket stand of 56 with Karthik.
But Mumbai lost their way following his dismissal off Jadeja's second delivery in the ninth over.
Pollard gave them hope with a breezy 16-ball 24 with two sixes and one boundary once he fell in the 15th over it was curtains for Mumbai.
Jadeja was the destroyer in chief claiming three for 31 while Bravo mopped up the tail to regain the Purple Cap with figures of three for nine.
Dhoni felt they were 10 runs short despite making 192-1 thanks to unbeaten half centuries from Michael Hussey (86) and Suresh Raina (82).
"Hussey gave us a good start but Raina gave us the edge in the middle of the innings," he said.
Mumbai skipper Sharma was hopeful of rebounding in the Qualifier 2 in Kolkata on Friday.
"There's always a second chance, but disappointed the way we played. Dinesh and I got out at the wrong time, had a wonderful start but didn't capitalise," he said.
Earlier, Chennai southpaws Hussey and Raina figured in an enterprising unfinished second wicket stand of 140 off 76 balls.
After a steady start, the duo opened out with 123 runs coming of the last 10 overs.
Murali Vijay (23) gave them a sound start by associating in an opening stand of 52 with Hussey.
Raina stepped up the tempo of the innings smashing five sixes and five boundaries during his 42-ball 82 passing 4,000 runs in T20 cricket.
Hussey cracked 10 fours and two sixes in his 58-ball 86 to regain the Orange Cap from Chris Gayle.
Pollard was the only successful bowler claiming one for 28 in three overs.
Harbhajan was the most economical conceding just 26 in his four overs while Malinga went for 45 in four and Ojha 20 in two overs
MUMBAI INDIANS INNINGS
Bravo takes a brilliant catch to dismiss last man Ojha as Mumbai are all out 144 in 18.4 overs.
P Ojha c Bravo b Sharma 0 (2b 0x4 0x6)
Rayudu smashes a boundary off Sharma but is out next ball as Morris takes a good catch. MI 144-9.
A Rayudu c Morris b Sharma 15 (14b 1x4 0x6)
It's a tame surrender by Mumbai as they lose another wicket. MI 140-8.
L Malinga c Hussey b Bravo 0 (2b 0x4 0x6)
Raina takes a brilliant catch to dismiss Johnson. MI 139-7.
M Johnson c Raina b Bravo 6 (7b 0x4 0x6)
It's all over bar the shouting now as Mumbai lose their in the middle after a flying start from Smith who smashed 68 off 28 balls. 137-6 in 17 overs.
Mumbai are crumbling in a hurry as Harbhajan holes out to Vijay. MI 128-6.
H Singh c Vijay b Bravo 0 (4b 0x4 0x6)
It's looks like curtains for Mumbai with their big-hitters back in the pavilion.
Jadeja has finished an excellent spell returning figures of 4-0-31-3.
Pollard blasts a couple of sixes off Jadeja but the bowler has the last laugh as Hussey takes a low catch to dimiss the dangerous West Indian. MI 127-5.
K Pollard c Hussey b Jadeja 24 (16b 1x4 2x6)
Bravo gives away just four runs in his first over as the asking rate mounts for Mumbai. MI 113-4 in 14 overs.
Pollard gets into his stride edging Jadeja to the fence. MI 109-4 in 13 overs.
Huge blow for Mumbai as skipper Sharma departs holing out straight to Bravo at long-off. MI 101-4 in 12 overs.
R Sharma c Bravo b Morris 8 (15b 0x4 0x6)
Jadeja has struck in consecutive overs trapping the struggling Karthik leg before. MI 95-3.
D Karthik lbw b Jadeja 11 (18b 1x4 0x6)
Ashwin bowls a tight second over conceding just three runs to peg back Mumbai who reach 92-2 at the halfway stage.
Jadeja strikes with his second delivery to dismiss the dangerous Smith. MI 87-2.
D Smith c Raina b Jadeja 68 (28b 6x4 5x6)
Smith is on fire blasting another six and sweeping a boundary in the first over from Ashwin. MI 86-1 8 overs.
Smith has smashed the third fastest fifth of the season off just 21 balls with four sixes and five boundaries. MI 72-1 in 7 overs.
Smith has pulled a short delivery from Morris for his third six.
Morkel goes for 16 with Smith hitting three boundaries as Mumbai make a steady start reach 56-1 at the end of the Powerplay overs.
Smith swings Morkel to square leg for another boundary.
Smith rocks back and pulls Sharma over fine leg for another six in consecutive balls. MI 40-1 in 5 overs.
Smith hits the first six of the innings smashing Sharma out of the grounds.
Smith hammers Morkel back past the bowler for a boundary. MI 27-1 in 4 overs.
Karthik spoils a good over from Sharma by smashing the last ball to the fence. MI 17-1 in 3 overs.
Albie Morkel strikes with his fourth delivery as Tare miscues to Vijay at mid-on. MI 12-1 in 2 overs.
A Tare c Vijay b Morkel 7 (7b 1x4 0x6)
Tare also gets into the act cracking Sharma through point for a boundary. MI 10-0 in 1 over.
Smith hits the first boundary of the innings driving Sharma through the covers.
Dwayne Smith and Aditya Tare open for Mumbai with Mohit Sharma bowling the first over.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS INNINGS
Malinga goes for 19 in the final over with Raina smashing a six while Hussey cracks a six and boundary as Chennai reach 192-1.
Hussey has paddle slogged Malinga to fine leg for an amazing six.
Raina has smashed Malinga for a six to begin the final over.
Johnson goes for 12 in the penultimate over with Raina and Hussey smacking a boundary each. CSK 173-1 in 19 overs.
Malinga spoils a good over by a low full toss which is despatched to the fence by Raina. CSK 161-1 in 18 overs.
The 100 partnership between Hussey and Raina comes in just 59 balls.
An eventful over with Raina completing his half century and also getting a life. CSK 151-1 in 17 overs.
Raina brings up his half century off just 29 balls with a six off Pollard.
Raina gets consecutive boundaries off Patel with classic shots. CSK 137-1 in 16 overs.
Chennai are ideally placed to launch an assault in the final overs. CSK 125-1 in 15 overs.
Hussey slams his first six hooking Pollard into the stands.
Hussey gets another boundary as Malinga returns for another over. CSK 114-1 in 14 overs.
Raina stands on his toes and thumps Johnson over point for his third six to bring up the half century partnership in 33 balls. CSK 107-1 in 13 overs.
Hussey completes another half century off 40 ball with seven boundaries.
Raina goes for another maximum this time on the off against Harbhajan. CSK 94-1 in 12 overs.
Hussey breaks the drought of boundaries with a reverse sweep to the fence before Raina hits the first six of the match clubbing Ojha over midwicket. CSK 84-1 in 11 overs.
Mumbai have pegged back Chennai who have reached 69-1 at the halfway stage.
Hussey gets another boundary off Patel who comes back for another spell.
A good over for Mumbai as Pollard gets the wicket of Vijay. CSK 55-1 in 8 overs.
Pollard strikes with his second delivery as Vijay miscues to Smith at square leg. CSK 52-1.
M Vijay c Smith b Pollard 23 (20b 2x4 0x6)
Ojha gives away five runs in his first over. CSK 52-0 in 7 overs.
Chennai are off to a sound start reaching 47 for no loss at the end of the Powerplay overs. CSK 47-0 in 6 overs.
Hussey takes on Harbhajan dancing down the track and hitting him for a boundary over extra cover.
Malinga goes for 10 in his first over with Hussey attacking him. CSK 39-0 in 5 overs.
Hussey cracks consecutive boundaries off Malinga.
Malinga into the attack replacing Johnson.
Harbhajan into the attack and concedes just two runs. CSK 29-0 in 4 overs.
Husseys cuts Johnson over point for another boundary as Chennai are on their way. CSK 27-0 in 3 overs.
Vijay gets his first boundary whipping Patel through square leg and another over extra cover. CSK 18-0 in 2 overs.
Munaf Patel attacks from the other end.
Hussey tucks away the first ball from Johnson which is a full toss to the midwicket fence. CSK 6 for no loss in 1 over.
Johnson has been handed the new ball by Dhoni.
Chennai openers Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay are ready on the boundary line as Mumbai go into a huddle.
Umpires Nigel Llong and Rod Tucker have walked into the middle.
Both teams will go all out despite knowing the loser will get a second chance to qualify for the final.
Sharma predicts a high-scoring game on a good batting track.
MS Dhoni has won the toss and Chennai will bat first in Qualifier 1 of IPL against Mumbai Indians at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Tuesday.
Chennai have made one change with Albie Morkel coming in for Jason Holder.
Mumbai have made four changes with Tendulkar who is still recovering from a tendon injury missing out.
Dwayne Smith comes in for Maxwell, Munaf Patel for Dhawal, Pragyan Ojha and Mitchell Johnson have also returned since missing the outing against Kings XI Punjab.
CSK: M Hussey, M Vijay, S Raina, MS Dhoni, R Jadeja, S Badrinath, D Bravo, A Morkel, C Morris, R Ashwin, M Sharma
MI: A Tare, D Smith, D Karthik, R Sharma, K Pollard, A Rayudu, H Singh, M Johnson, L Malinga, P Ojha, M Patel
The IPL bandwagon rolls on despite spot-fixing scandals and news just coming in that Sahara India, owner of the Pune Warriors franchise, has pulled out over financial differences with the Indian cricket board (BCCI).
Pune finished eighth ahead of Delhi Daredevils, winning four out of the 16 matches they played.
IPL founder Lalit Modi taking a dig at the BCCI tweeted: "If you don't treat franchises equal - this is bound to happen." (@LalitKModi)
On a positive note, India's Supreme Court dismissed a petition on Tuesday seeking to scrap the remaining matches of the IPL amid growing concerns about corruption in sport.
Sachin Tendulkar is a doubtful starter as Mumbai Indians take on Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1 of IPL6 at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Tuesday.
Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma told Times of India they would take a call on his fitness on the day of the match.
Tendulkar has been in sublime form before injury forced him to miss the the clashes against Rajashasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.
Mumbai will have to choose between Glenn Maxwell and Dwayne Smith if he is unavailable to play.
There is little to separate two-time champions Chennai and Mumbai though both teams come into the match after suffering losses against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab in their last league encounters.
Both teams have won 11 matches and are only separated by a difference of 0.09 in the Net Run Rate factor.
Although Chennai are favourites having won eight of the 13 matches played between the two teams, Mumbai hold the edge over them this season.
Mumbai restricted the hosts to 139 for nine and won by nine runs in the first match and routed them by 60 after dismissing Chennai to their lowest IPL total of 79.
But the MS Dhoni-led CSK have always delivered the knockout punch when it mattered most having defeated MI in the Final of IPL 2010 and in the Eliminator the follow year.
CSK also have a better record than MI away from home having won five as against three.
In their matches at Delhi earlier this season, CSK defeated hosts Delhi Daredevils by 86 runs while MI lost to DD by 9 wickets despite posting 161 on the board.
With the Kotla track traditionally favouring spin, all eyes will be on R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from CSK and Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha for MI.
On the batting front, CSK spearheaded by the prolific Michael Hussey have plenty of depth with Suresh Raina being in terrific form.
MI have the big-hitting all-rounder Kieron Pollard while the added burden of captaincy has not affected the form of Rohit Sharma.
The winner of this match will advance to final on May 26 and the loser in this match will get a second chance when they clash with the winner of the Eliminator (Rajasthan Royals v Sunrisers Hyderabad) in Qualifier 2 on May 24.