Hyderabad: He had two Pandyas and a Malinga to choose from to bowl the IPL final’s last over with just nine runs to defend. Instinctive Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma, who has played five IPL finals and won all of them, decided to go with experience and tossed the ball to Lasith Malinga.
The Sri Lankan quick delivered as he got Shardul Thakur leg before wicket with CSK needing two off the last ball to send Mumbai into raptures on Sunday night. “Nine runs off the last over, anything can happen but you’ve got to back experience, and that’s what we did,” a delighted Rohit said after the match.
“When the decision comes off, it looks all nice. It can backfire also. At that stage, I wanted to go with experience, with somebody who has been in such situation before. And Malinga has been in that situation a million times,” the 30-year-old said.
A fair understanding of what Shardul Thakur could do, based on his knowledge of playing alongside him on the Mumbai team in Ranji Trophy, led to finalising the last ball strategy — slower ball. “I know Shardul really well. I kind of understand where he wants to hit, so we (Malinga and him) decided that we’ll go for that slower option, because knowing Shardul, he would try to play a big shot and there might be a chance that he might just sky it. The idea was to get the batsman out. Again, it could have gone either way,” Rohit said.
Rohit had been in a similar situation before, in the 2017 IPL final, at the same venue. MI had beaten Rising Pune Supergiants by the same margin — one run! It was that deja vu moment for the Mumbai skipper. “I clearly remember when we won here in 2017, it was Mitchell Johnson who bowled that last over and defended only 10 runs. So yes, sometimes you’ve got to go with only instincts, sometimes you’ve got to go a little backwards and think what these experienced players have done and what they bring to the table,” Rohit said.
“I went with Mitchell because he’d been in that situation. He’s an experienced and a leading bowler. And even today, Malinga is one of the finest T20 players that we’ve seen. We knew he could give us a chance of winning the game,” Rohit added.
Rohit was spoilt for choice when asked to pick the best of his five IPL titles — four with Mumbai Indians and one with Deccan Chargers (2009).
“It’s so tough to take one out of the five. You see IPL is a very tough tournament to win. I can’t really pick one because every season has its own challenge. One with DC and four with MI, we’ve had exceptional seasons. I will cherish and remember all five,” he concluded.