Hyderabad: Mumbai Indians created history by becoming the first team to win the Indian Premier League (IPL) thrice, after they defeated the Rising Pune Supergiant by one run at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, on Sunday.
What made their win all the more special was that it was achieved against their local Maharashtra rivals Rising Pune Supergiant, who had already beaten them in all of their three previous encounters this season.
Pune had actually started the match off on a high, restricting MI to 129 for eight from their quota of 20 overs. However, they went greviously wrong in certain departments, which may have caused this monumental collapse, as Rohit Sharma and company take the cake.
Ben Stokes: The missing piece in the jigsaw
When you buy a player for Rs 14.5 crore, you expect him to be there at the business end of a tournament. However, Stokes was unavailable for the last phase of the IPL due to pre-Champions Trophy commitments with his national side, which is why Lockie Ferguson was brought in to replace the Englishman.
However, Ferguson had not even nearly had the impact that Stokes had had during the league stage of the tournament. In fact, Ferguson was RPS’ most expensive bowler on the night of the final, conceding as 21 runs in his two overs.
Stokes on the other hand, had a much better impact with both the bat and the ball, taking 12 wickets at a decent economy rate of 7.18.
It is safe to say that RPS were missing the presence of the big Englishman in the game, especially in the late overs, when the New Zealander conceded a lot of runs.
The Krunal Pandya show
Krunal Pandya was on fire on Sunday night – the man was everywhere. He came in to bat at a time when Mumbai were struggling, with the top three batsmen – Parthiv Patel, Lendl Simmons and Ambati Rayudu having departed. The 26-year-old anchored the innings from one end, while the wickets tumbled from the other. Krunal’s crucial knock of 47 from 38 balls was instrumental in keeping Mumbai in the hunt.
Batting was not the only aspect where Krunal chipped in. In fact, he was called upon by captain Rohit Sharma, to open the bowling for MI. He may not have taken any wickets, but his tight line-and-length helped MI stifle the Pune batsmen. He bowled eight dot balls in his four-over spell, which ended with figures of 0-31.
Rohit Sharma’s intelligent team management
Rohit may not have been on great form this season, but he more than made up for it with his leadership. From opening the bowling with Krunal Pandya, to setting the field for Johnson’s penultimate over of the match, Rohit has shown that he can be a real captainship material.
In fact, Johnson was seen asking Rohit for a deep fine-leg, which was promptly denied by the MI skipper. Manoj Tiwary, who was on strike on the first ball of the over, even managed to squeeze a boundary in that area. However, no protection was provided in the area, which induced Johnson to change his line, resulting in Tiwary’s wicket the very next ball.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s wicket
RPS had been cruising at a steady pace, when both Steve Smith and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were at the crease. The asking rate may have been rising, but both Smith and Dhoni have ample of experience, and are capable of launching into the overdrive mode when required.
However, Jasprit Bumrah got Dhoni with a peach of an out-swinger, something that built more pressure on the Pune lads. Dhoni is someone who is lightning quick between the wickets, managing to squeeze-out the cheeky singles, easing the pressure off his team. Add his stroke playing capabilities to that, especially in the death overs, Dhoni becomes a huge wicket.
Steve Smith’s wicket
This was arguably the biggest turning point of the match – and it came with just three balls to go. Seven runs to win from four deliveries is not that difficult a task, when someone like Steve Smith is at the crease.
The RPS skipper had struck a wide-ish delivery hard, on the third ball of the last over, as it sailed towards the boundary. However, Ambati Rayudu (the only deep fielder on the off side) was strategically placed for that shot, and he made no mistakes by taking an easy catch just inside the ropes. This turned the momentum of the match completely on its head, resulting in Mumbai’s third IPL title.