Mumbai Indians (MI) beat defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by one run in a thrilling match in Hyderabad to become the 1st team to win the Indian Premier League (IPL) four times.
It was definitely the clash of the Titans – two teams that had won three IPL titles each, two teams that had some of the best Indian and international players, two teams that have frequently faced each other and provided some classic IPL moments across the tournament.
Frequently, when a match is hyped as much as the MI vs CSK match, it turns out to be a damp squib. But, not this one though. It was a classic final, where MI emerged champions after beating CSK on the very last ball.
In a match where momentum shifted regularly between the two teams, MI was rewarded by their faith in their veteran bowler, Lasith Malinga who held his nerve to defend 9 runs in the final over. With this fourth victory, MI became the most successful team in the 12-year history of the tournament.
At the halfway stage, the trophy looked like it was heading towards Chennai. Superb bowling by Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir and Shardul Thakur ensured that none of MI’s rampaging batsmen could dominate the proceedings.
Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishen got starts but were unable to convert them into a position of strength. Hardik Pandya made 16 off 10 but was undone by Chahar. At one stage, MI looked like they would struggle to even get to 130 but, Kieron Pollard’s knock of 41 off 25 balls including three fours and three sixes brought back the momentum. With him at the crease, MI looked like they could get to 160 or more but Dwayne Bravo bowled a stifling final over to ensure that MI ended up with a below-par total of 149.
CSK started brightly as Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson added 33 runs in four overs before du Plessis was stumped by Krunal Pandya. This did not seem to deter Watson, who looked determined to haul his team over the victory line, even though his partners on the other side of the crease kept finding ways to increase the pressure.
Suresh Raina burnt CSK’s only review trying to overturn an LBW call off Rahul Chahar, while Bumrah got the better of Ambati Rayudu who was caught by de Kock. The match, however, was nowhere close to over.
To control the situation, CSK’s captain walked into the middle in what was fast becoming a familiar situation for him and the team – a semi-collapse in the middle, chasing a low total and needing his guiding hand. CSK fans knew they had a chance as long as ‘Captain Cool’ was in the middle.
But, tonight, however, was not his night. Dhoni struggled to get two off eight balls before he tried to steal a second run off an overthrow. Ishan Kishan swooped down on the ball and threw it down the stumps at the non-striker's end, catching Dhoni marginally short. It was a tight call and one that proved to be the turning point of the match.
Watson, however, was not giving up so easily. He smacked Lasith Malinga all over the park, hit Krunal Pandya for three sixes off consecutive balls and looked determined to single-handedly win the trophy for Chennai. The total looked within reach, even as Dwayne Bravo was dismissed by Bumrah.
At the start of the 19th over, Watson was on strike with 9 runs to get. Malinga was still reeling from the 20-run over. A single off the first ball, another quick single by Jadeja to bring Watson back on strike and two runs off the third ball brought the equation down to 5 off 3.
They took an easy single off the 4th ball but Watson wanted the strike and set off for a second. Halfway there, he saw the throw in from the deep and a waiting de Kock gleefully knocked the bails off with Watson way short of the crease. Four runs off two balls with a new batsman at the crease and suddenly the momentum had swung MI’s way again.
Four from two became two from one as Shardul Thakur ran hard to get two runs from the 5th ball. Knowing that the batsmen would run, no matter what, Malinga turned to his wicket-taking ball, a toe-crushing Yorker, a slower ball. Thakur swung and missed the ball that hit him on the pads. The umpire had no hesitation in raising his finger and death bowling wizard had done it again.
In a season defined by twists and turns, it was a fitting finale. Mumbai heads off into the sunset with another IPL trophy while CSK now has a year to introspect and improve before starting another IPL season as heavy favourites.
(Featured Image: Twitter/Mumbai Indians)
About the Author
Vishnu Rao is a freelance writer and a content creator based in Bengaluru. He loves sports with a passion and is currently dreaming of authoring a book on Wrestling