Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma said he advised Lasith Malinga to bowl a slower delivery to Shardul Thakur as he was well aware of the tailender’s range of shots. With just two required to win in the final ball of the match, the Sri Lankan seamer bowled a slower off-cutter, which Thakur tried to flick it towards the on- side. However, the batsman failed to make a connection and was trapped leg-before as MI beat CSK by one run in a pulsating final.
“The idea was to get the batsman out. So I know Shardul really well. I kind of understand where he wants to hit, so we decided together (Malinga and him) that we’ll go for that slower option, because knowing Shardul, he would try to play a big shot and there might be a chance that he might just sky it. Again, it could have gone either way,” the Mumbai skipper said after the match.
Rohit also stated that he was ready to accept the blame had the decision to let Malinga bowl the final over backfired. He further said the experience of Malinga to execute things during crunch situations motivated him to stick with the Sri Lankan pacer. Malinga repaid the faith his skipper showed in him defending nine runs off the final over.
“When the decision comes off, it looks all nice. It can backfire also. At that stage, I wanted to go with experience, with somebody who has been in such situation before. And Malinga has been in that situation a million times. So we backed him to do that,” the four-time IPL champion skipper said at the post-match press conference.
Rohit also went to compare the situation with the IPL 2017 final, which Mumbai won by one run against MS Dhoni-led Rising Pune Supergiants. Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson had then defended 11 runs in the final over to pull-off a one-run victory.
“I clearly remember when we won here in 2017, it was Mitchell Johnson who bowled that last over and defended only 10 runs. So yes, sometimes you’ve got to go with only instincts, sometimes you’ve got to go a little backwards and think what these experienced players have done and what they bring to the table,” Rohit said.
Rohit said he relied on experience in both the instances and was sure that Malinga would give Mumbai a chance of winning the game. “It was a thought when I went with Mitchell because he’s been in that situation. He’s an experienced bowler, a leading bowler. And even today, Malinga has been one of the finest T20 players that we’ve seen. We knew he could give us a chance of winning the game.”
“Nine runs off the last over, anything can happen but you’ve got to back experience, and that’s what we did,” the MI skipper said.
The limited overs vice-captain also became the first player to win five IPL titles, with his first title coming back in 2009 with the defunct Deccan Chargers.
“Oh, I forgot that (title with DC). Yeah it is five. It’s so tough to take one out of the five. You see IPL is a very tough tournament to win. So I am not going to pick one, because all those victories, all those finals that we won. One with DC and four with MI, we’ve had exceptional seasons. I can’t really pick one because every season has its own challenge. For me, all five, I will cherish and remember, and not pick one,” he concluded.