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IPL10 Final : Vintage Malinga, Nerveless Bumrah And Resilient Johnson Showcase The Ultimate Death-Bowling Skills

May 24, 2017

Vivo IPL 2017 The Final - RPS v MI

At the end of the 15th over 47 runs were all that stood between Rising Pune Supergiant and their maiden  IPL title. With Steve Smith and MS Dhoni, their current and former captains still batting together and that too with 8 wickets in hand; it took something very special from the Mumbai Indians death-bowlers even to force a final-over-finish. Given the experience of both the batsmen and their skill of striping a chase to its finest essentials, the match could possibly have gone only one way. At the 16th over the deadly duo provided a crash-course on how to get these chases done and dusted by picking up a four and a six off Krunal Pandya, the main man behind Mumbai’s total of 129, still a modest one nevertheless.

Mumbai Indians though, who have been brilliant with the ball up to this point knew that it could be a tricky chase on a spongy surface and obviously the game was not over. RPS having a batsman less with the lower-middle order being literally untested, you never know in what position was the batting team going to find themselves with the fall of a couple of quick wickets. Of course, no longer could that be possible by sniping through; the time had arrived to launch a frontal assault.

Having to defend just 33 off 4, Rohit Sharma went back to his most reliable customer for the all important 17th over. Jasprit Bumrah, MI and Team India’s undisputed #1 death bowler of late showed all signs of maturity and no sign of nerves just as he did while bowling the super over 3 weeks ago. That over was like a highlight reel of his best balls. He went full to Smith first ball off which the RPS skipper could not manage more than a single, but didn’t repeat the same against Dhoni who hammered him for 17 off 10 balls during the previous encounter of the two teams. This time Bumrah knew that Dhoni could bring his whippy wrists and the strong bottom-hand into play against anything full and that if he had missed the yorker even by this much Dhoni would smack it out of the park. Hence he kept it slightly back of length and close to off-stump denying Dhoni the room to swing his bat. MSD though, attempted a similar stroke that earned him a boundary in the previous over, but this time with a hint of reverse swing Bumrah clipped the outside edge to send Mahi back in the hut. Following this he bowled Manoj Tiwary, the new batsman, 3 fast inswinging length balls. 2 of which being dots.

With just 3 runs from the 17th over and the wicket of Mahendra Singh Dhoni the pressure was now back on Smith and his team, but you wouldn’t put it past Steve Unstoppable Smith to gun it down. Rohit knew he had to rely on Malinga and Johnson to sandwich Bumrah’s 19th in between their overs. Johnson however had played only 4 games before the final in this year’s IPL whereas Malinga struggled to find his rhythm this time around.

The Sri Lankan might not have looked at his sublime best in this tournament but he looked far better on Sunday night. He assessed the conditions and mixed length balls with slower ones. The first over he bowled, he deceived Rahane completely with the change of pace but Krunal, at short-extra-cover fluffed a simple chance to deny Malinga the wicket he deserved. But the good thing was that he didn’t lose hope and also didn’t overdo yorkers until his 3rd over. Till the 18th over he had grown more comfortable with his yorkers and it showed as well. He nailed one that sneaked between Smith’s legs and nearly took his leg stump out. Then again he sent down another, but Smith this time shortened the length fractionally by sitting deep into the crease and flicked it wide of square-leg for four, apart from which he bowled a phenomenal over under the context of the game and conceding only 7 off that over Malinga played his part.

Needing 23 from the last 2, it was once again up to Bumrah to bowl another economical over and allow Johnson the cushion of as many runs as possible for the final over. The 23-year-old started magnificently having gone for just 4 from his first 4 balls, whipping up a combination of inch-perfect yorkers and dipping slower deliveries; but it was Smith’s brilliance in the last 2 balls that put the game in the balance again. With a six over long-off and a couple in the last ball RPS now needed just 11 from the final over to seal the game.

Then came Mitchell Johnson, whose most significant contribution up to this point had been mentoring the younger fast bowlers in the squad. He might not have been on the field even had McClenaghan, the 4th leading wicket-taker of the tournament, been fit. Once again, it was some great situation awareness from the Mumbai Indians captain to save Johnson for the final over, as he anticipated that the Aussie’s swinging deliveries and cutters will be very difficult to hit against the wind from that end. Meanwhile, Rohit did not anticipate Manoj Tiwary to play the half-sweep towards square-leg. Johnson, who had just lost an arguement with his captain regarding stationing a man at that particular area, followed Tiwary with a full-length delivery and it was dispatched for 4 at exactly the same region.

Pune thought they had one hand on the trophy. Surely that would do it! But Mitchell Johnson hadn’t had his say as yet. The very next ball he bowled a cutter coming into Tiwary who neither picked the length of the ball nor the pace and scooped it straight up in the air – Pollard doesn’t drop anything, neither did he drop this one. But more importantly for Pune their captain was back on strike with 7 required off 4. The very next ball Johnson came round the wicket to Smith who seemed to have timed his inside-out slice perfectly, but it went straight to Ambati Rayudu, the only fielder in the vicinity. Smith could not believe his luck; even Rayudu could not believe his luck! But to take that catch under pressure was brilliant.

Now 3 off 7 with the two new batsmen in was exactly what Mumbai Indians wanted at that stage. Still there was no room for complacency. One bad ball and all the hard work could get spoiled in a moment. But Johnson didn’t let that happen. He approached teenaged Washington Sundar with a yorker and the batsman failed to make any contact with the ball. Johnson missed his hat-trick by 2 inches and Parthiv too missed a run out by a whisker as the batsmen scampered through for a bye. Daniel Christian, the man on strike desperately slogged the next ball and was dropped by Hardik Pandya, who otherwise has been a standout performer in the field throughout the season. Christian could have been out, should have been out; but sprinted for a couple instead and that left the Supergiants with a boundary to get off the final delivery – wasn’t to be. Having dragged the match this far there could be only one winner.

Mumbai Indians have pulled off some stupendous comebacks  in the past. This time too they had their back against the wall. But they broke it and threw their opponents to the other side like a boss.

 

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