Powerplay hangman Trent Boult nearly terminated the final on the first ball of the match when he knocked over Marcus Stoinis. That sinking feeling deepened when he took out Ajinkya Rahane in his second over and off-spinner Jayant Yadav removed Shikhar Dhawan to leave Delhi Capitals reeling at 22 for 3. They recovered through Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant but couldn’t come up with a fiery finish in the last five overs and ended up on a below-par 156.
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Supported by brisk cameos from Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Sharma settled the issue with a responsible 68 as Mumbai cantered home by five wickets with eight balls to spare.
Devilish first ball
It was probably the most venomous first ball of any IPL final, certainly the first to take a wicket. It also led to a bemusing and rare visual: have we ever seen a batsman fall to a regulation nick outside off-stump but swing around 360 degrees to look at the wicketkeeper over his left shoulder? Such was the shock and awe in Stonis, who was flattened by a devilish ball from Trent Boult.
It kicked up from back of a length, even as it straightened just outside off-stump. And boy, was Stonis stunned by that extra bounce and fizz off the track. By the time the bat came down, the ball had rammed it near the handle and flown to the wicketkeeper. The heavy ball had opened up Stoinis and thrust him into an awkward position.
The moment seemed like a throwback to the 2015 World Cup final when Brendon McCullum fell in the first over and the game drifted to a lame one-sided affair in Australia’s favour. A feeling that strengthened after Rahane fell, strangled down the leg-side and firmed up after Shikhar Dhawan was cleaned up by Yadav.
Yadav’s inclusion was another good move by Mumbai, who went for him instead of Rahul Chahar as counter to Delhi’s left-handers. Yadav, who has represented India in Tests and an ODI before being sidelined for a long time by a career-threatening injury, is a brave off-spinner. He showed it too, by tossing the ball up in the Powerplay, tempting Dhawan to go for the slog-sweep and spinning it past the heave to clatter the stumps.
Iyer and Pant with the recovery
Perhaps, the dire situation liberated them. Perhaps, their own poor form lifted any expectations. Whatever be the reason, Iyer and Pant slowly started to claw their way back to reach 59 for 3 in 9 overs when Krunal Pandya helped their cause in the next over. The left-arm spinner usually likes to keep it tight but possibly moved by the fact that another wicket at that stage could derail Delhi, he flighted the ball a lot more than usual. Spinners have generally skidded the ball away from Pant, away from the off-stump, making him drag it across the line. Pandya tossed it up on the stumps and Pant slammed him for two sixes as 16 runs came in that over and the innings found some momentum.
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Iyer crash-landed Kieron Pollard for a six and it was nicely set up for a blast-off in the last five overs when Pant fell off the last ball of the 15th over, his favourite wristy swipe to the onside sending the ball straight to deep backward square-leg. From then on Iyer too lost steam, and though he remained unbeaten, the final flourish never came – not from him, not from the others as Delhi finished on 156.
Rohit lifts cup for the fifth time
The last few days have been controversial for Rohit, to say the least, with the way he has managed the comeback from his injury. There was also a battle within the battle against R Ashwin, who opened the bowling after some prior success against him, but Rohit rushed down the track to put him over long-on in the first over. With de Kock taking the pressure off with a thunderous cameo and Yadav too starting off briskly, Rohit kept flowing in his inimitable style. There was also some interest in how Sharma would play leg-spinner Praveen Dubey as he has had problems picking the googly from most leggies. However, he settled any doubts by depositing the young tweaker for two sixes in the ninth over.
However, Rohit wasn’t entirely confident against Ashwin and a desperate attempt to rotate strike with a quick single against him saw him run out Yadav in the 11th over. Yadav didn’t want that run, stayed rooted at the non-striker end but Rohit didn’t break his run at any stage and Yadav, Mumbai’s best batsman this tournament, sacrificed his wicket for his well-set captain.
“He was batting really well at that moment and anchoring the innings; I don’t mind sacrificing,” Yadav would say later. Rohit continued to anchor the chase and though he fell near the end, there was no doubt that Mumbai would win the IPL for the fifth time.
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