HYDERABAD: When matches are won by low-scoring teams, more often than not the opponents are either bowled out or they lose wickets at regular intervals. But Sunday witnessed the peculiar situation, when Rising Pune Supergiant lost to Mumbai Indians in the IPL final by just one run, even though they had wickets aplenty going into the final over. A target of 130 did not look imposing even on the slow surface, but Rohit Sharma’s boys held their nerves to clinch the title.
At the crease in the last over was RPS skipper Steve Smith, unbeaten on 51, and looking to finish the match. They had seven wickets in hand. It was then that Rohit hatched a plan with Mitchell Johnson to counter Smith, with 11 required from the over. “We noticed that Smith was trying to use the pace of the bowlers. So, we decided to not give him that. Mitchell was bowling against the wind, so hitting him was going to be difficult for Smith,” Rohit said with contentment written all over his face after Sunday’s final.
While the pace trio of Mitchell Johnson (3/26), Jasprit Bumrah (2/26) and Lasith Malinga (0/21) were hailed for defending a small score, Rohit also lauded his spin duo of Krunal Pandya (0/31) and Karn Sharma (0/18) for creating pressure. “We had the belief that things can change anytime. We brought in spinners and bowled those dot balls to make them play big shots.
That is where they made mistakes.”
The ploy paid dividends. Runs came only in trickles for a few overs in the middle, which gradually made a simple chase look more daunting. The victory was even more surprising considering the fielding gaffes by Mumbai players. After Krunal fumbled with a sitter from Ajinkya Rahane’s bat, instances of mis-fielding crept in. It was in stark contrast with the efforts of Pune, who were lightning quick in execution of run outs, other than Shardul Thakur’s miraculous catch near the rope to dismiss Rohit. “We wanted to add 20 runs extra by our fielding. But we were sloppy in the first 10 overs. So we regrouped and decided not to overdo things,” Rohit said.
Three wickets in the last over ensured that Mumbai became the first team to bag three IPL trophies. The victory was akin to another come-from-behind story of the year, of New England Patriots defeating Atlanta Falcons to win the Super Bowl after trailing 3-28. The final score read 34-28.