MI edge RPS to clinch third IPL title

The Mumbai Indians celebrate after beating Rising Pune Supergiant to become Vivo IPL Champions in the final of the Vivo 2017 Indian Premier League at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad, India yesterday. (Photo by Shaun Roy – Sportzpics – IPL)

(IPL) The Mumbai Indians were last night crowned VIVO IPL 2017 Champions. In a match befitting of a tournament finale, MI won their third IPL title after they defeated Rising Pune Supergiant by a solitary run at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad.

Despite an underwhelming performance with the bat, and a sloppy performance in the field, the MI bowlers applied the squeeze on their opponents, eventually leading their team to a one-run win. After scoring a below-par 129-8, MI restricted RPS to 128-6.

RPS will believe they let the trophy slip from their clutches. They needed 23 runs from the final two overs of the run-chase, which came down to seven runs from five balls. But Manoj Tiwary attempted the glory shot and picked out long-on, and when Steve Smith picked out the lone man patrolling the cover boundary next ball, the pressure had shifted back. RPS needed four runs off the final delivery, but Daniel Christian and Washington Sundar could muster only manage two runs despite a misfield.

The surface and discipline from the MI bowlers meant RPS never really bossed the chase. After Rahul Tripathi was dismissed in the third over, Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith added 54 runs in 9.3 overs to put the innings back on track. Rahane was fluent and played a few eye-catching drives, while Smith took his time to settle down. RPS were 38-1 at the end of the powerplay.

MI steadily built pressure and controlled the chase as they did not concede a boundary in three overs after the fielding restrictions were relaxed. Rahane found the release in the 10th over when he helped a full toss on his pads to the fine-leg fence. The opener then collected another boundary in the following over – courtesy a sweep shot off Krunal Pandya and a misfield by Lendl Simmons.

The second wicket partnership, which threatened to run away with the match, was curtailed when Kieron Pollard charged in from the fence and took an excellent catch diving forward. Smith and MS Dhoni added 27 from as many deliveries, before the latter edged Jasprit Bumrah to the wicketkeeper. The rest of batsmen who got an opportunity could only take their team close; RPS finished their 20 overs at 128-6 – two runs short of what they needed to lift the IPL trophy.

For MI, the entire bowling group was excellent on the night and at no time let RPS get ahead of the game. Lasith Malinga, who’d had a largely forgettable tournament, bowled his best spell of the season; he got his yorkers right and executed the change of pace brilliantly. Bumrah and Johnson were outstanding at key moments in the match and shared the spoils. Mention should also be made of Karn Sharma, who only conceded 18 runs in his four-over spell.

In the evening, MI did not show any aggression despite opting to bat first. Simmons let the first ball of the match sail through to the wicket-keeper, after which he and his opening partner Parthiv Patel collected seven runs in the first couple of overs. Jaydev Unadkat prised out the openers in the third over; Patel miscued an off-cutter and picked out mid-on, while the bowler took a sensational return catch – diving to his left-side and plucking the ball inches off the turf – to dismiss Simmons. MI were 8/2.

MI crawled to 16/2 at the end of five overs, but doubled their score in the final over before the powerplay when Rohit Sharma hit Lockie Ferguson for four boundaries; he pierced the gap between the point and backward point fielder first ball, then collected a boundary through fine-leg, ran one down to the third man boundary and crisply drove one through cover.

Ambati Rayudu cut one away to the point boundary in the seventh over, but was run out in the following over attempting a suicidal run – the RPS captain scored a direct hit at the non-striker’s end to catch the batsman a few yards short of his ground.

At the halfway stage, MI were 56/3. At the start of the 11th over, Rohit pulled a longhop from Zampa straight down the throat of the fielder patrolling the midwicket boundary. Kieron Pollard hit the leg-spinner for a six first ball, but holed out to a strategically placed straight long-on three balls later. MI were in deep trouble at 65/5, with nine overs still remaining to be bowled.

Hardik Pandya hit one six before he was beaten by an inswinger and trapped LBW in the fourteenth over. When Karn Sharma was run out at the start of the fifteenth over, it appeared MI would be bowled out and would not even bat their full complement of 20 overs.

But Krunal Pandya, who walked out to bat at five, and Mitchell Johnson, stitched together a 50-run partnership – the highest eighth-wicket partnership in IPL Finals – to take MI to a respectable total. Krunal, who had watched four batsmen walk back to the dressing room from the other end, had 28 from 29 balls at the end of the 18th, before he cut loose; in the 19th, he deposited Unadkat into the long-on boundary, and then collected a four and a six off Daniel Christian in the final over. Krunal was dismissed off the final ball of the innings; he made 47 from 38 balls (3 fours, 2 sixes), while Johnson remained unbeaten on 13. MI completed their innings at 129-8 – the lowest first innings total in an IPL Final.

RPS did not do anything spectacular with the ball. But they had done their homework and applied well, assessed the conditions and executed well, were disciplined with the ball and in the field, and duly reaped the rewards. Steve Smith was impressive with his bowling changes, while the fielders took all the catches and showed good match-awareness – case in point being Thakur’s catch on the boundary to dismiss Rohit and Christian running out Karn Sharma.

Unadkat dismissed the two openers and returned figures of 2/19, while Zampa (2/32) and Christian (2/34) cleaned up the middle order. Special mention must be made of the 17-year old Washington Sundar, who bowled two miserly overs in the powerplay and bowled two more tidy overs thereafter, eventually finishing figures of 4-0-13-0.

Brief Scores

Mumbai Indians: 129-8 (Krunal Pandya 47, Rohit Sharma 24, Jaydev Unadkat 2-19, Adam Zampa 2-32, Daniel Christian 2-34) beat Rising Pune Supergiant: 128-6 (Steve Smith 51, Ajinkya Rahane 44, Mitchell Johnson 3-26, Jasprit Bumrah 2-26) by 1 run.

Man of the Match: Krunal Pandya

Season Award Winners

Fair Play Award: Gujarat Lions

Emerging Player: Basil Thampi (GL)

Orange Cap: David Warner (SRH)

Purple Cap: Bhuvneshwar Kumar (SRH)

Most Valuable Player: Ben Stokes (RPS)

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