The opening match of the 11th season of Indian Premier League (IPL 2018), which was expected to be a thriller from the start – given that arch rivals Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings were clashing – ended up being just that. Thanks to some lone fireworks by Dwayne Bravo, Chennai Super Kings, returning to IPL after serving a two-year ban, beat Mumbai Indians by 1 wicket in a nail-biter finish in the last over of the game.
Earlier in the day, batting first, Mumbai Indians scored an average-looking total of 165/4. In their chase of 166 at a required run rate of 8.3, CSK lost its way in the middle, losing cheaply its top-rung batsmen Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, captain M S Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav (retired hurt). Dwayne Bravo ploughed the lonely furrow, but ran out of partners in quick succession, with Deepak Chahar and Harbhajan Singh losing their wickets while trying to accelerate.
However, the 18th and 19th overs of the game, which yielded 20 and 19 runs, respectively – with some skiers and spectacular shots over the boundary by Bravo – turned the match on its head and brought CSK back into play. Though Bravo departed on the last ball of the 19th over, he had already done the job by then. Now requiring only 7 off the last over, Jadhav, who had retired hurt earlier, returned to make the winning runs and saw his team through on the penultimate delivery of the match.
Chennai Super Kings innings report:
Chasing an average-looking total of 165, Ambati Rayudu and Shane Watson opened the innings for Chennai Super Kings. They played the first over very carefully, scoring only 3 off the first five balls of Mitchell McCleghan, but a last-ball boundary by Rayudu took CSK's score after the first over to 7/0.
The second over of the CSK innings, against the bowling of Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman started with a bang, with Watson scoring a four off the very first ball. But Rahman made a comeback soon after to deliver 3 dot balls in the next four. Hoever, he yielded another four off the last ball. CSK's score at the end of two overs: 16/0.
Replacing Mitchell McCleghan in the third over, Jasprit Bumrah delivered a tidy one, giving away only one run off the first four balls, a single each on the fifth and sixth -- a total of only 3 from the over took Chennai Super Kings to 19/0 in 3 overs. Batting at 6.3 runs per over so far, CSK were still way short of the overall asking rate of 8.3. As a result, at this point, the asking rate stood at 8.66 runs an over.
Replacing Mustafizur Rahman at the other end for the fourth over was Hardik Pandya. Difficult to say if it was good news for Mumbai Indians or bad, as Pandya was seen limping as we walked to take his run-up. He was hit for a six on extra cover for a six by Shane Watson on the third ball off the over. But eventually Pandya proved good news for Mumbai Indians by giving his team the much-needed breakthrough on the very next ball. He removed Watson, who tried to hit over the top and ended up getting caught by Lewis at deep square leg. Watson departed for 16 off 14 balls, with one 4 and a six at a strike rate of 114.28. In total, Pandya yielded 12 runs in the over. CSK's total: 31/1 after 4 overs.
Suresh Raina, who joined Rayudu in the middle took it easy in the next few balls. The fifth over of the game, bowled again by McClenaghan, yielded 8 runs, with Raina scoring 3 and Rayudu 5. The CSK score at the end of 5 overs: 39/1. 127 more required off 90 balls at 8.46 an over.
Hardik Pandya came back to bowl the sixth over nd kept things fairly tidy at his end, giving away only 3 runs and picking another prize wicket -- of Suresh Raina, who departed after scoring only 4 off 6 balls at a strike rate of only 66.66, quite uncharacteristic of him. As a result, CSK appeared to be a slow starter at the end of the first powerplay, having scored only 42 at the loss of 2 wickets. They were slightly ahead in comparison to Mumbai's 39/2 at the same time in their innings -- but certainly struggling, with 124 more to score off 84 balls at 8.85 runs an over.
CSK's cup of woes looked spilling over as they lost another quick wicket -- in the very next over as youngster Mayank Markande scalped Rayudu, rapping him in front wickets at the score of 22 off 19 balls, with four 4s and no six, at a strike rate of 115.78. And after 7 overs, CSK were tottering at 44/3 after 7 overs, with both new batsmen -- MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav in the middle.
Bumrah returned to deliver the eighth over of the innings, with Jadhav on strike and delivered back-to-back dots. The third was a no-ball, but Jadhav failed to capitalise on the free hit that followed. Off the last two balls of the over, Dhoni picked three runs to take the runs scored in the over to 5. At the end of the 8th over, CSK were 49/3 -- not a happy state to be in, with 117 more to score off 72 balls at 9.75 an over.
The 9th over saw CSK taking another huge blow, with Dhoni getting caight in front of the wicket by Markande -- second wicket for the youngster, and what a big one. Dhoni went for 5 off the same number of balls, without scoring a boundary. After 8.3 overs, CSK were in a very difficult position, at 51/4. Ravindra Jadeja comes in to bat at number 6. Things were hardly better at the end of the over, with no run being scored off the next three balls. In his first two overs, Mayank Markande gave away only four runs -- an average of 2, and a spectacular one for the debutant.
Hardik Pandya started the 10th over with a wide, but soon got back into groove to deliver only four in the rest of the over. At the end of half their quota of overs, CSK were struggling at a sickly score of 56/4. With 110 runs to score off the remaining 60 balls, the required run rate had shot up to 11 an over.
The 11th over of the match, bowled by Markande, was a little expensive one -- by the standard set by him in earlier overs. A total of 11 runs were scored and CSK were at 67/4, still requiring 99 to go off 54 balls.
Rahman, brought back into attack to bowl the 12th over, delivered a fairly tidy one, giving away 8 runs but scaping Ravindra Jadeja's prize wicket. Jadeja, while trying to accelerate the score, got dismissed by Rahman -- caught Suryakumar Yadav at long off. CSK score: 75/5 in 12 overs, still 91 required off 48 at 11.37 runs an over.
From the CSK point of view, the next 4 overs had little to write home about. They scored 40-odd runs they lost Deepak Chahar, Mark Wood and Harbhajan Singh, and Kedar Jadhav was retired hurt due to a hamstring injury. Bravo appeared to be ploughing the lonely furrow.
The 18th over of the game, however, was one of massive blows -- all from Dwayne Bravo. Rising up to the occasion when his team needed it the most, Bravo scored 20 runs from this over, with two 6s, and one four. CSK score suddenly zoomed to 139/8. Now they required 27 runs off 12 balls.
the 18th and 19th overs of the game, which yielded 20 and 19 runs, respectively – with some skiers and spectacular shots over the boundary by Bravo – turned the match on its head and brought CSK back into play. Though Bravo departed on the last ball of the 19th over, he had already done the job by then. Now requiring only 7 off the last over, Jadhav, who had retired hurt earlier, returned to make the winning runs and saw his team through on the penultimate delivery of the match.
Mumbai Indians innings report:
Making a return to the Indian Premier League (IPL) in its 11th edition after serving a two-year suspension, two-time winners Chennai Super Kings (CSK) made an impact early on, as opening bowler Deepak Chahar gave them the first breakthrough in the form of Evein Lewis, who was caught leg before. Soon after, Shane Watson got the scalp of Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma, who top-edged and was scooped up by Ambathi Rayadu.
At the end of the first powerplay, Mumbai Indians were 39/2, thanks to some powerful strokes by Suryakumar Yadav. Later, young Ishan Kishan also did some power-hitting to take Mumbai Indians to a respectable 69/2 at the end of the 10th over.
However, the real fire was unleashed by Mumbai Indians only after, with both Yadav and Kishan swinging the willow to score some quick runs and the hosts soon were 98 for the loss of two wickets before Shane Watson removed Yadav for 43 off 29. Trying to accelerate the score, Yadav lofted a ball only to be caught cleanly close to the boundary by Harbhajan Singh.
After Yadav departed, Kishan was joined by hard-hitter Hardik Pandya, who, true to his reputation, scored some quick singles -- both through hard blows and cheeky improvisations. But just when runs seemed to be coming at a quick clip, Kishan departed after scoring 40 off 29 balls. Trying to pull an Imran Tahir delivery, Kishan hit an elevated shot that got a good height but did not make the distance -- and in the end, landed in the safe hands of Mark Wood.
Hardik Pandya was joined at the crease by brother Krunal, and at the end of the 15th over, Mumbai Indians were 117/4.
But CSK made a smart comeback in the 18th over of the game, with some sharp bowling by Dwayne Bravo, who yielded only 3 off the six balls, with Hardik Pandya playing 4 of them for dots. The score at the end of the 18th over: 143/4.
Making do for the loss of some crucial time and balls in the middle, the 19th over of the game saw the scoreboard ticking more quickly, with 16 runs being scored off Mark Wood's 6 balls. Two 4s and a six in the over meant the score reaching 160/4 at the end of the 19th.
Now, with the final over of the game underway, it was the time for Dwayne Bravo to again unleash his class and restrict the Pandya brothers from going for the big shots and take their team total to a high. And, so he did. The last over of the innings saw only 5 runs being scored -- and one of them a bye -- thanks to 2 dot balls played again by Hardik Pandya. The final score for Mumbai Indians was 165/4.
Now, Chennai Super Kings have to score 166 off 20 overs at an asking rate of 8.3 to take home the glory of winning the first match of IPL 2018 -- and that against arch rivals Mumbai Indians on latter's own home ground.
It seems Pandya got injured while trying to run a double on the last ball of the game. He was not able to walk back to the pavillion. This might be a blow for MI – with a low total to defend losing an all-rounder or having him play with injury would be the last thing they would want.