Mitchell Johnson kept his nerve to guide Mumbai Indians to their third Indian Premier League [IPL] title after they got the better of Rising Pune Supergiant by one run in a thrilling finale in Hyderabad on Sunday.
With Pune needing 11 to win in the last over, the over got off to a great start for the batting side as Manoj Tiwary [7 off 8 balls] managed to find the boundary off the first delivery. Johnson came back strongly as he took the wickets of Tiwary and Steve Smith [51 off 50 balls] off back-to-back deliveries to give Mumbai the upper hand.
The wicket of Smith was especially important as the Pune skipper looked like he was playing a match-winning knock, having scored his third fifty of the tournament. If there is one regret that Smith might have, it might be that he did not accelerate earlier on in his innings as he took a lot of deliveries to get his eye in.
The equation came down to four runs needed off the final delivery with Dan Christian on strike and the Australian all-rounder could get only two which meant that Mumbai had won the IPL for the third time.
Earlier, after electing to bat first, Mumbai got off to a disastrous start as Supergiant pacer Jaydev Unadkat, who has had quite the season with the ball, got the better of both openers - Parthiv Patel [4 off 6 balls] and Lendl Simmons [3 off 8 balls] - in just the third over of the innings.
From there on, the Mumbai batsmen struggled to get their timing right on what was a slow pitch. Rohit Sharma [24 off 22 balls] tried to bring some momentum into Mumbai’s innings as he hit four fours off a single over off the bowling of Lockie Ferguson.
But they were soon pegged back as Smith produced a brilliant piece of fielding to run Ambati Rayudu out for 12. Adam Zampa then got the wickets of Rohit and Kieron Pollard [7 off 3 balls] as Pune continued to pile on the pressure and Mumbai were in big trouble at 65-5.
Hardik Pandya [10 off 9 balls] and Karn Sharma [1 off 5 balls] were soon dismissed, but Krunal Pandya was on hand to help Mumbai get to a competitive total of 129-8.
While wickets kept falling at the other end, Krunal kept his calm and scored 47 from 38 deliveries, which ended up being a crucial knock in the context of the match. It was not a surprise that he was named as the Player of the Match later on.
In reply, Pune lost the wicket of Rahul Tripathi [3 off 8 balls] early, but Ajinkya Rahane [44 off 38 balls] and Smith built a 54-run partnership and looked on course to chase down the target.
Some tidy bowling from Mumbai in the middle overs got them right back into the game and, in a rare occurrence, MS Dhoni wasn’t able to get his team home in a chase as he was caught-behind off the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah for a 13-ball 10 in the 17th over.
In the end, Pune fell short by the narrowest of margins in a nerve-wracking contest.
Johnson and Bumrah took three and two wickets respectively while Lasith Malinga and Karn Sharma conceded just 21 and 18 runs respectively from four overs each.
After the win, Mumbai captain Rohit was full of praise for his bowlers.
“To be able to come and defend (around) 130 was a great effort from the team, something which I was expecting because we’ve got a great set of bowlers,” he said.
“We stuck to our plans, we always knew that the wicket was not easy (to bat on). So, if you take one wicket, two-three were going to come. A lot of credit goes to the bowling unit.”
Mumbai Indians 129-8, 20 overs [Krunal 47, Rohit 24, Unadkat 2-19, Zampa 2-32] beat Rising Pune Supergiant 128-6, 20 overs [Smith 51, Rahane 44, Johnson 3-26, Bumrah 2-26] by one run.
Player of the Match - Krunal Pandya.
Most Valuable Player (of the season) - Ben Stokes.