Mumbai Indians ended their IPL 2017 season on a winning note as they became the only team to win the title thrice. Considered to be one of the giants of IPL, the Rohit Sharma-led side manage to defend their total of 129 against Rising Pune Supergiant, who at one stage were cruising towards an easy win. After a stumbling start, it was Krunal Pandya’s knock of 47 which gave their bowlers a decent total to defend. Mumbai head coach and former Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene called it a complete team effort as they escaped from the face of defeat by just one run.
“It feels great but the credit should go to the boys. Bunch of guys, lot of senior player in them. They created the opportunity today for us, the experience they had out and kept everyone calm and hung in there. It was a marathon for us, its not the way you start the race but how you finish it. And we finished brilliantly and credit goes to the senior group,” Jayawardene said during an interview posted on the official website of the Indian Premier League.
Asked about Rohit’s captaincy this season, the MI coach said that, “Rohit is a fantastic leader. This season we asked him to do a lot of things. Specially batting at number 4 and it was a big move for us. But he took it upon him and guided the team through the season. All the other guys played different roles for us and he led brilliantly. He had help from senior players like PP (Parthiv Patel), Polly (Kieron Pollard), Johno (Mitchell Johnson).”
After Pune bowler Jaydev Unadkat struck twice in the third over to dismiss openers Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel, Mumbai was pushed on the backfoot and were later reduced to 78/7. However, it was Krunal and Johnson’s 50-run partnership which pushed their total to 129. In reply, Pune were marching towards the victory with a 54-run partnership between skipper Smith and Ajinkya Rahane. It was in the death overs when MI managed to pull things back and hold RPS to 128.
“I was really strong on keeping heads high and believe that we could defend this and to take the game deep as much as possible. Yes we didn’t get the wickets we wanted but half way through I said we can’t get this team all out. The obvious choice was to try and defend the total and we had good focus,” he added.
Mumbai finished the league stage as table toppers, but the 20-run defeat against the Supergiant in the first qualifier meant they had to take a longer route to make it into the final.
“We had the experience and was done with his spell. Johnson was the only and we counted on his experience. And he did deliver for us. Harbhajan (Singh) too contributed in the middle of the season and in the end was a team effort which led through,” he concluded.