Mumbai secure third IPL title with thrilling 1-run win

A lot of times, being a sports fan can have an adverse effect on your health. And the IPL 2017 final was a perfect example of the emotions and pressure the fans and the players have to go through… for 40 overs and three hours. But, while the winning team and their fans can bask in the glory and forget what they had to undergo, the losing team, especially when you’ve lost by just one run and on the last delivery of the match, create for themselves a scar for the rest of their careers at least.

Steve Smith and his troops will be gutted to have not secured the trophy and will take some length of time to recover from this defeat. It was a classic case of their losing this match. But, as they say in football, cricket too is a matter of two halves and a good showing with either bat or ball in one half doesn’t guarantee you the match or in this case the trophy.

A lack of proactive batting cost Supergiant dear in the final of VIVO IPL 2017. They only had to go at 6.50 runs per over, to overhaul Mumbai’s 129/8. But on an average, Pune batsmen maintained only a run rate of 6.00-6.20 runs per over, over the course of their entire innings, and this failure to get ahead of the required run-rate proved fatal in the end.

Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith were involved in a good second-wicket partnership which appeared to be assuring Pune of the IPL trophy. These two batsmen rotated the strike relatively well and kept the scoreboard ticking over. But what they failed to do was find the boundary as well, at regular intervals, to go with rotating strike and taking the ones and the twos. When a boundary was hit, the next few balls were either dots or tended to yield just two or three runs. And so, hitting a four or a six did not have the desired impact on proceedings.

The early loss of Rahul Tripathi, in the second over, was a costly one as far as Pune were concerned. Tripathi is the more natural boundary hitter who will have been the ideal foil for Rahane or even Smith, who bats at No. 3. Tripathi, though, was trapped in front of the stumps by Jasprit Bumrah on the second delivery of the third over and this wicket, in hindsight, did a significant damage to Pune’s chances of winning their maiden IPL crown.

Smith had tended to start his innings slowly on many instances during IPL 2017. In fact, against the same opposition in match 2, the Rising Pune skipper had consumed 26 deliveries for his first 28 runs, in a much bigger chase (185). But Smith was able to up the ante and get his team over the finishing line on the penultimate delivery of the match. One wondered if he had something similar in store here, on the biggest occasion and in a much smaller chase.

The Pune skipper, though, struggled for rhythm on this night and not until very late in the match, did Smith start connecting better and finding the boundary. Staggeringly, Smith played 22 balls before he hit his first four and by this stage, Mumbai had brought themselves back into the match. Smith played a fantastic inside-out shot off Mitchell Johnson on the third ball of the final over, and the ball sped away off the middle of his bat. But it went flat and was pouched by Ambati Rayudu at sweeper cover. The ball was travelling at the rate of knots and Rayudu did extremely well to cling on and this essentially decided the contest.

Rayudu was the only man protecting the cover boundary and had the ball been a few yards either to his left or right, Pune will have collected a minimum of four runs and the equation would have come down to three runs required off three balls. Instead, with Smith’s dismissal, Pune, after Manoj Tiwary had hit a boundary off the first ball of the final over and was dismissed on the very next, still needed to get seven runs off three balls and they managed to score one five runs. Smith’s half-century (a 50-ball 51 and the highest individual score of the IPL 2017 final) went in vain.

Rahane played his natural game and seemed to have the match under control while he was in the middle. But with Smith not scoring runs in a heap or at least matching him for strike-rate and boundary hitting, Rahane ideally had to bat at a higher tempo rather than at a little more than a run a ball. But the diminutive Mumbai batsman, who was given a second life by Krunal Pandya when he was batting on 14, neither upped the scoring rate nor batted the length of the innings, to see his team home. His 44 (38) did not quite help Pune’s cause.

While you can be critical of the way Smith and Rahane, and Pune in general, batted and approached the chase of 130, you cannot overlook the brilliance of almost every Mumbai bowler. They bowled their hearts out, as they had to, but under immense pressure, the likes of Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Johnson, and Karn Sharma brought their A-game to the fore and kept the Pune batsmen on a tight leash. Very rarely was a loose ball on offer from a Mumbai bowler and one of the keys to Mumbai’s success was the way their bowlers built pressure and kept persevering even while the wicket they were looking for didn’t arrive.

As aforementioned, Smith and Rahane put together a 54-run partnership which normally in a small chase is sufficient. But because the Mumbai bowlers bowled disciplined lines and lengths and kept bowling dot balls or at least did not concede the boundaries, Pune’s innings did not make much progress. And with the run rate creeping over seven and eight runs per over, you knew that a wicket could make a big difference to the equation.

Which is precisely what happened in the 12th over, with Rahane mistiming an intended lofted drive to long-on. Kieron Pollard had to make significant ground to get to the ball that was dying on him, but diving full stretch, the tall West Indian completed a magnificent catch, to reduce Pune to 71/2 at the end of 12 overs.

MS Dhoni then walked in at No. 4 and appeared relaxed about the situation. But he too was strangled extremely well by Bumrah and Karn, who ensured that the former skipper did not get to free his arms. Dhoni had only one opportunity to play a free-flowing stroke, a cut behind square on the off side, yielding him four runs. Otherwise, Dhoni did not get the ball in his zone and with his powers on the wane, he couldn’t dig the balls which were full and directed towards his pads. Dhoni fell in trying to cut Bumrah past point, but only managing a thick outside edge which carried the ball straight to Parthiv Patel.

Manoj Tiwary, walking in at the fall of Dhoni’s wicket and with his team still needing 32 runs off 22 balls, too couldn’t play a cameo which was the need of the hour. And, having hit a boundary on the first ball of the final over, he only had to remain with Smith for the rest of the innings (five balls), to take his team over the finishing line. But he too holed out to long-on, off Johnson.

Christian, a clean hitter lower down the order, only managed to squirt the ball square on the onside, on the two balls he faced from compatriot Johnson, and four runs were all he could manage, with Pune needing seven off four balls.

Superb bowling, great field placing, safe catching, and great match awareness from Rising Pune gave them a massive advantage at the midway point of the IPL 2017 final. Mumbai, having opted to bat first, were restricted to 129/8, a total which they had to be happy with in the end. Because, they were 79/7 in the 14th over, and looking increasingly likely to be bowled out for 100 or so.

But a 50-run eighth-wicket partnership between Krunal Pandya and Mitchell Johnson lifted the spirits of those in the dugout a touch and gave Mumbai a slight momentum ahead of the second innings. Krunal was the only Mumbai batsman who had an assuredness about his presence and batting. Having walked in with the score at 41/3 in the eighth over, Krunal had to lend stability to the innings, along with skipper Rohit Sharma.

But the Baroda all-rounder also showed tremendous temperament and patience, to actually take his team to 129. Mumbai collected 24 runs off the final two overs of their innings, with the senior Pandya alone contributing 20 (2×6, 1×4 and 4×1) of those. He had been running out of partners and the match situation was such that Krunal might well have been tempted to play the big shots in search of runs. But he delayed attacking the Pune bowlers to perfection and his 47 off 38 proved to be a match-winning innings for which he won the man-of-the-match award.

The Mumbai top and middle order had fallen cheaply and to unthreatening deliveries. Even an accomplished batsman like Rohit failed to put a bad ball away and was instead caught in the deep. Pollard was another batsman who holed out in the deep, trying to hit a normal leg-spinner from Adam Zampa straight down the ground but only managing to hit the ball straight down the throat of a straight-ish long-off, where a fielder was stationed specifically for this type of shot.

In addition to such dismissals, a lack of urgency from Rayudu and Karn in running between the wickets, resulted in them being run out by good, agile fielding. Mumbai had their backs to the wall because of ordinary batsmanship, but thanks to Krunal and Johnson too, they rose from doldrums to first post a total with which they could worry Pune and then successfully defend 129, to win their third IPL title.

Pune v Mumbai, Final scorecard

Playing XIs

Mumbai: 1. Rohit Sharma (c), 2. Parthiv Patel (wk), 3. Lendl Simmons, 4. Ambati Rayudu, 5. Kieron Pollard, 6. Krunal Pandya, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Karn Sharma, 9. Mitchell Johnson, 10. Jasprit Bumrah, and 11. Lasith Malinga

Pune: 1. Steve Smith (c), 2. Ajinkya Rahane, 3. Rahul Tripathi, 4. Manoj Tiwary, 5. MS Dhoni (wk), 6. Daniel Christian, 7. Washington Sundar, 8. Shardul Thakur, 9. Jaydev Unadkat, 10. Lockie Ferguson, and 11. Adam Zampa

Scores

Indians: 129/8 (Krunal 47; Unadkat 2/19 and Zampa 2/32)
Supergiant: 128/6 (Smith 51 and Rahane 44; Johnson 3/26 and Bumrah 2/26)

Mumbai Indians (MI) innings (toss: Rohit, who chose to bat first)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Lendl Simmons caught and bowled Unadkat 3 (8) 0 0 37.50
Parthiv Patel caught Thakur, bowled Unadkat 4 (6) 0 0 66.67
Ambati Rayudu run out by Smith 12 (15) 1 0 80.00
Rohit Sharma caught Thakur, bowled Zampa 24 (22) 4 0 109.09
Krunal Pandya caught Rahane, bowled Christian 47 (38) 3 2 123.68
Kieron Pollard caught Tiwary, bowled Zampa 7 (3) 0 1 233.33
Hardik Pandya leg before wicket Christian 10 (9) 0 1 111.11
Karn Sharma run out by Christian/Thakur 1 (5) 0 0 20.00
Mitchell Johnson not out 13 (14) 0 1 92.85
Batsmen who didn’t bat: Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah
Extras: 8 (5 wides, 2 leg byes and 1 bye)
MI’s total: 129/8 in 20 overs, at 6.45 runs per over
MI’s fall of wickets: 7/1 (Parthiv, 2.1), 8/2 (Simmons, 2.4), 41/3 (Rayudu, 7.2), 56/4 (Rohit, 10.1), 65/5 (Pollard, 10.6), 78/6 (Hardik, 13.2), 79/7 (Karn, 14.1), and 129/8 (Krunal, 19.6)
Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) bowling
Bowlers Overs Dots bowled Runs conceded Wickets taken Economy rate
Jaydev Unadkat 4 11 19 2 4.75
Washington Sundar 4 15 13 0 3.25
Shardul Thakur 2 6 7 0 3.50
Lockie Ferguson 2 5 21 0 10.50
Adam Zampa 4 7 32 2 8.00
Daniel Christian 4 10 34 2 8.50
Pune innings (target: 130 runs in 20 overs, at 6.50 runs per over)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Ajinkya Rahane caught Pollard, bowled Johnson 44 (38) 5 0 115.78
Rahul Tripathi leg before wicket Bumrah 3 (8) 0 0 37.50
Steve Smith caught Rayudu, bowled Johnson 51 (50) 2 2 102.00
MS Dhoni caught Parthiv, bowled Bumrah 10 (13) 1 0 76.92
Manoj Tiwary caught Pollard, bowled Johnson 7 (8) 1 0 87.50
Daniel Christian run out by Suchith (sub)/Parthiv 4 (2) 0 0 200.00
Washington Sundar not out 0 (1) 0 0 0.00
Batsmen who didn’t bat: Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Jaydev Unadkat, and Adam Zampa
Extras: 9 (3 wides, 5 leg byes and 1 bye)
RPS’s total: 128/6 in 20 overs, at 6.40 runs per over
RPS’s fall of wickets: 17/1 (Tripathi, 2.2), 71/2 (Rahane, 11.5), 98/3 (Dhoni, 16.2), 123/4 (Tiwary, 19.2), 123/5 (Smith, 19.3), and 128/6 (Christian, 19.6)
Mumbai bowling
Bowlers Overs Dots bowled Runs conceded Wickets taken Economy rate
Krunal Pandya 4 8 31 0 7.75
Mitchell Johnson 4 10 26 3 6.50
Jasprit Bumrah 4 8 26 2 6.50
Lasith Malinga 4 11 21 0 5.25
Karn Sharma 4 12 18 0 4.50

Your opinion...