HYDERABAD: Catches win matches. And when you drop them, you drop your chances of securing those wins. It is one of the oldest cliches associated with the game. But Mumbai dropped aplenty on a humongous occasion like the IPL final and it did not affect them. Despite fumbling catches of Chennai Super Kings’ best batsman for the night — Shane Watson — Mumbai stole a one-wicket win to emerge as the only team to clinch four trophies of the biggest domestic T20 league on the planet.
With just nine to defend in the last over, in a chase of 150, pacer Lasith Malinga put his cool demeanour to best use to secure a memorable win. Chennai began steadily, accumulating 72/2 in the first 10 overs, but lost track in the next five, which yielded just 16 runs for the loss of two wickets. This was their third defeat in the final against the same opponent. Malinga and Rahul Chahar dropped Watson when the Australian was on 31 and 55 respectively to almost hand Chennai the trophy on a platter. But some tactical death-over bowling from Jasprit Bumrah kept the pressure on Chennai. The pressure exerted by Bumrah could be gauged from the fact that Chennai, requiring 62 in the last five overs and scoring 20 each off the 16th (Malinga) and 18th (Krunal Pandya) overs, still fell short of the target.
In the first half, Chennai wrested control over the encounter with a solid bowling display. Their unheralded pacer Deepak Chahar, in tandem with tweakers Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja, had choked many teams and forced them to go slow. The bowlers came to party once again and restricted Mumbai Indians to 149/8.
The leader of the pack proved to be Chahar, as he took three wickets to end with 22 wickets in 17 matches this term. Things started in favour of the Blues, as they racked up 37 in four overs with both their openers Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma intact.
The breakthrough, however, was provided by someone who had had an ordinary season. Shardul Thakur had taken six wickets in nine games before the final. Just when it seemed that Mumbai were going to wrest control of the encounter with a blazing start, Thakur got rid of De Kock with a rising delivery that landed in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s green pair of gloves. The send-off, for which Thakur was warned by the umpires, showcased what the wicket meant for the medium-pacer.
The onus was now on skipper Rohit Sharma to steer Mumbai’s innings, but he too failed. He was done in by a knuckle-ball just outside off stump, which the right-hander edged to Dhoni. With 45/2 on the board, it was time for some consolidation effort from the batsmen. To some extent they did that by adding 37 for the third wicket. The pair of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan added those runs.
In came Tahir with his fastish wrist-spin. He did not take long to re-enact his famous celebration and Yadav played his second delivery on to the stumps. Captain Rohit’s decision to bat first was failing, with wickets at regular intervals. Kieron Pollard had plans of his own, and he, with some help from Hardik Pandya, helped the side in reaching a target that turned out to be adequate, just about.