IPL 2017: MI clinch record third IPL title after one-run heist

Wow! At the halfway stage, it looked as good as over. Midway through Rising Pune Supergiant’s chase, the writing was on the wall. But in the final quarter of the 2017 Indian Premier League final, Mumbai Indians came storming back into the contest with one of the most thrilling comebacks in IPL history to end up champions of IPL 10, beating RPS by one run in a heart-wrenching last-ball thriller.

Batting first, Mumbai sufferred multiple collapses to be restricted to 129. In reply, RPS were 71 for 1 in the 12th over and on course for a famous victory. But Mumbai fought back hard to tighten screws and make it tough for RPS to score.

It left MI needing 47 off the last five overs, which became 11 off the final over, which was bowled by Mitchell Johnson. The Australian picked up the big wickets Manoj Tiwary and Steve Smith and defended four off the final ball to give their side a record third IPL title.

The gut-wrenching finish

47 off 30 balls with eight wickets in hand, including a well-set Steven Smith and MS Dhoni at the crease. In any other situation, one would have expected RPS to romp home to victory. But this was the final, and pressure can do funny things to even the bigwigs of cricket.

Dhoni fell, caught behind off Jasprit Bumrah, when most expected him to cut loose. Manoj Tiwary disappointed when he the sitaution called for more calm and Steve Smith slipped up and holed out when he was expected to find the gap. In the end, MI won by the narrowest of margins, one run, and it was all thanks to some sensational death bowling.

Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell Johnson all delivered the perfect overs for their side, helping the side defend 33 off the last four overs and claim the third IPL title.

The lone warrior with the bat

Krunal Pandya, in many ways, has been Mumbai Indians’ go-to man this IPL. He was at it again in the final, hitting an all important 47 off 38 balls to give his side a vital push towards getting a decent score. Krunal walked in with his side struggling at 41 for 3, and did all he could to stem the rot.

He watched Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Karn Sharma all depart in quick succession before he took matters into his own hands. He slammed three fours and two sixes to help Mumbai go over the 100-run mark. He was out caught for 47 off the final ball of the innings, but had ensured he had given his bowlers something to play with.

Were RPS always behind the eight ball?

Nope. With the platform they’d set, they should have strolled to victory.

Their start was much more solid. Rahul Tripathi failed after scoring three off eight, but Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane helped the innings back on track with a patient 54-run stand.

The pair did not go hammer and tongs at the target, understandable given the massive things at stake. But that they failed to push the accelerator having put themselves in a strong position, which left them needing to score rapidly at the end.

Rahane had done brilliantly to score 44 off 38 balls, and was out caught superbly by Pollard at long-on. Smith, however, struggled to find the boundary and consumed up a number of dot balls.

The lack of quick runs after Rahane’s dismissal – Dhoni and Smith could only manage 12 runs off 19 balls – left the equation at 47 off the last 5 overs. With the pitch a tacky one, Mumbai Indians would have fancied their chances from there. They did, and ended victorious.

How did Mumbai Indians fare with the bat?

Except for the silver lining that was Krunal Panya, horribly. Jaydev Unadkat may have surprised a lot of people by becoming one of Supergiant’s key bowlers this campaign, but he ensured he showed exactly why he was the Supergiant’s supergiant. Asked to bowl first, Unadkat left Mumbai Indians feeling quite uneasy about their decision as he had the openers back in the hut before they could inflict any sort of significant damage.

He forced Parthiv Patel inito lofting one in the air after a tight couple of overs, and the left-hander could only find mid off. In the same over, he dove to his left to pluck out a stunning catch and end Lendl Simmons’s stay at the crease. By the third over, Mumbai found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 8 for 2.

Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma gave their side a glimmer of hope with a flurry of boundaries, which included Rohit hitting four in an over off Lockie Ferguson. However, Smith found the stumps and Rayudu short with a rocket throw from mid off, while Rohit hit a short ball straight to Shardul Thakur in the deep to leave Mumbai Indians in dire straits.

Mumbai’s harakiri

Mumbai Indians might have found themselves in trouble, but they still had enough batting depth to make a decent total. Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma had thrown away their starts. Surely, the rest of the team would learn from their mistakes. Apparently not!

RPS welcomed Kieron Pollard with a challenge. They had a long off as straight as possible. Pollard seemed up for the challenge and slammed his first ball for six. But he went for an encore soon after, and ended up hitting it straight to the fielder, Manoj Tiwary. Hardik Pandya failed to read an incutter, and also refused to move his feet to a good-length delivery, and was out LBW for 10. Next up, Karn Sharma edged to first slip, and immediately took off for a single after Dan Christian dropped the catch. The ball had dropped just inches away from Christian, and he was able to return it quickly to Thakur to whip out the bail with Karn stranded mid-way down the pitch. At 79 for 7, Mumbai looked already out of the contest. Thankfully, Krunal Pandya and the bowlers hadn’t thrown in the towel.

Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 129/8 in 20 overs (Krunal Pandya 47, Rohit Sharma 24; Jaydev Unadkat 2-19, Adam Zampa 2-32) beat Rising Pune Supergiant 128/6 in 20 overs (Steve Smith 51, Ajinkya Rahane 44; Mitchell Johnson 3-26, Jasprit Bumrah 2-26) by one run.

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