Scales were tipped heavily in Pune’s favor after they restricted Mumbai to 129, but Johnson’s lastover heroics turned it around.
Jaydev Unadkat’s offcutters sent Mumbai Indians (MI) off-kilter so much they almost keeled over in Sunday’s IPL 10 final against Rising Pune Supergiant. And then Mitchell Johnson produced a last over so brimming with hostility that despite conceding a first-ball four, MI managed to win the title by one run off the last ball.
Chasing 130 for their first IPL title, Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) seemed to be in control but the famed MI bowling attack never really let them break loose. 23 was needed off the last two overs and RPS took 12 off the 19th bowled by Jasprit Bumrah with an inside-out six helping skipper Steve Smith bring up his half-century.
Manoj Tiwary then hit Johnson for four but just when all seemed lost, the Australian pace ace struck off successive deliveries. Tiwary holed out to Kieron Pollard and Smith, having anchored the chase so well, was caught by Ambati Rayudu at the point boundary.
In his disappointment, the RPS skipper didn’t cross and that meant Washington Sundar had to face Johnson. He managed to scoot a bye and then Dan Christian took a two after Hardik Pandya dropped a stiff chance. The last ball saw a misfield but RPS were never going to run three to force a tie.
After a case of never giving up despite putting up a low score –RPS hit their first six in the 16th over — MI players huddled so hard after Sundar was run out that it seemed someone would get hurt. They are the only team to have won three IPL titles and Rohit Sharma the only player to have won this four times.
Ajinkya Rahane (44) and Smith had stabilized RPS’s chase after Rahul Tripathi’s early dismissal, a dodgy decision because replays showed Bumrah’s delivery would have missed the stumps. After Rahane went, skippers past and present, MS Dhoni and Smith, couldn’t take RPS home and then the jitters jeopardized chances of bowing out on a high.
It also meant that Pandya brothers, Hardik and Krunal, wouldn’t eventually be vilified for dropping catches. And that Krunal’s 47 and his eighth-wicket stand of 50 with Johnson would make the difference between victory and defeat.
RPS bowlers got everything right and encapsulating the effort was Sundar, conceding only 13 in his four overs after opening the bowling with Unadkat.
They were backed by some tigerish efforts on the field with Smith leading from the front. Smith ran out Ambati Rayudu when he and Rohit seemed to be rebuilding the innings after Unadkat had sent back Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel in the space of three balls.