Big men show up in a Cup final. Amidst the pressures and the demands of the summit clash, they display character.
Some thundering drives from the hefty Kieron Pollard (41 off 25 balls) piloted Mumbai Indians to 149 for eight here on Sunday night. Lasith Malinga, who had gone for 42 runs in his first three overs, was entrusted with the task of bowling the final over with Chennai Super Kings needing nine runs.
The Sri Lankan made his experience count with an accurate over. With two off the last delivery, he trapped Shardul Thakur in front to trigger celebrations in the Mumbai dugout.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Super Kings, especially Shane Watson, who had resurrected the innings with a brilliant counterattacking 80 off just 59 balls (eight fours, four sixes). The Australian was run out off the fourth ball of the final over, tilting the scales in Mumbai’s favour.
Earlier, Pollard finished the innings with two blistering cover drives off fellow Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo and Mumbai had some runs to play with.
Pollard, though, was an angry West Indian in the last over after the umpire did not signal a wide off a Bravo delivery outside off. He took strike about six yards away from his off-stump for the next delivery, Bravo stopped in his tracks and the umpires had a word with Pollard before sanity returned.
Incision and control
The cauldron that the IPL final is, can do strange things to you. Then Mumbai fought hard on the field. The bowling had incision and control.
Faf du Plessis, stroking the ball crisply on either side, was foxed by a widish delivery from Krunal Pandya; he gave the left-arm spinner the charge and was stumped.
Suresh Raina fell to a Rahul Chahar delivery that hurried off the pitch and went straight through. And Ambati Rayudu was bounced out by Jasprit Bumrah.
Then the key man, M.S. Dhoni, was run-out by the narrowest of margins by a direct throw from Ishan Kishan from deep cover. CSK had a fight on its hands.
Things started differently for Mumbai Indians after it decided to set a target.
de Kock on fire
Quinton de Kock, with nifty footwork, innovated and created at the start. Deepak Chahar was creamed for three sixes in the third over; whipped from outside off, lofted, inside-out, over extra-cover and timed a length delivery, angled across, over long-off.
At the other end, the smooth-stroking Rohit Sharma pulled a short ball from Deepak Thakur over the ropes and then swept Harbhajan Singh.
MI had sped to 44 for no loss in 4.4 overs when Thakur surprised and scalped de Kock with a quick, skiddy short-pitched delivery. de Kock was late on to the pull.
Then, Chahar, taken off by Dhoni after the pounding in the third over, was brought back by the skipper in the sixth over. This was an inspired move.
Chahar has bowled capably against the right-handed Rohit in the competition and got the Mumbai skipper with a knuckle ball just outside off.
Deceived by the change of pace, Rohit nicked and Dhoni completed a smart catch. At the end of the PowerPlay, Mumbai was 45 for two and CSK had clawed its way back.
Imran Tahir has been influential for CSK with his changes of length, flight, dip and turn and he got the important wicket of the in-form Suryakumar Yadav with a quicker, fuller delivery that was not quite there for the chop.
This was Tahir’s 25th scalp in this IPL, equalling Rabada’s tally of 25.
Then Tahir, bowling with heart and craft, defeated the left-handed Ishan Kishan’s attempt to slog him with a delivery that held its line. He now was the highest wicket-taker this season.
Tahir bowled beautifully, giving the ball air and daring the big-built Pollard to use his shoulders. It was a tantalising duel. It was only when Tahir pitched short that Pollard deposited the ball in the crowd.
This was a day when Thakur bowled with some hostility and fire.
Krunal Pandya miscued a pull off a skiddy short pitched delivery and Thakur covered around 25 yards to hang on to the catch. He would have snapped up Hardik Pandya too, on four, but Raina, after circling around the catch, spilled the offering.
Then, Hardik unleashed the helicopter shot. These additional runs hurt Chennai.