When arch-rivals Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) were playing the opening game of the 11th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), it was hard to pick a clear favourite to win the match. The twists and turns kept you at the edge of your seat all through the game – such a match could have been anything but predictable. In was not before Dawyne Bravo displayed some heroics and the match turned on its head from the 18th over that one thought CSK would go on to win. Until then, MI appeared to have a rock-solid grip on the match. How then did they manage to lose their way?
Batting first, Mumbai Indians put on the board an average-looking total of 165 in their quota of 20 overs for the loss of 4 wickets. Even as Chennai Super Kings were chasing this modest score, they never looked comfortable and their top order collapsed like a pack of cards – all throwing away their wickets at regular intervals. But in hindsight, it would appear, Mumbai Indians did everything to lose the nail-biter.
First things first, the total Mumbai put on the board was, perhaps, 20-odd runs short of what could have been called a respectable score to defend. The opening pair of Evin Lewis (0) and Rohit Sharma (15 runs off 18 balls) failed to impress, both falling within the first 4 overs of the game when the team score was a mere 20 runs. The onus of giving the innings some firmness – and at the same time keeping he scoreboard ticking – lay on the young shoulders of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav. To their credit, Kishan and Yadav did well in the job, playing carefully in the first 10 overs and going for biggies only after. Together, they amassed 32 runs in 11th and 12th overs.
But Yadav perished while trying to accelerate; after he scored 14 runs off Dwayne Bravo's first over, Yadav was removed by veteran all-rounder Shane Watson in the next. Kishan got out of ab Imran Tahir top spinner – after scoring 14 runs in the 11th over – while trying to slog the South African leggie but managing only a top-edge which was lapped up by the short third man in the 15th over.
After the departure of Yadav and Kishan, the explosive Pandya brothers, Krunal and Hardik, came to the crease. Krunal looked more impressive as he scored 36 runs off IPL debutant Mark Wood's bowling in the 17th and 19th overs for MI. But he failed to show the same hitting skills against the more experienced Bravo. The Carribean all-rounder gave only 12 runs in his last 3 overs, and that in the death overs, including only 5 in the last over of the innings. The result: MI were restricted at a sub-par score of 165 – at least 20 runs short of a competitive total on this ground.
While bowling, Mumbai did well early on by giving the four frontline pacers one over each in succession. They did not disappoint, and Hardik Pandya removed opener Shane Watson when the team score was only 27 in the 4th over. Watson mistimed the ball and got caught at long leg by Evin Lewis. A clinical Pandya gave CSK another blow as he got rid of Suresh Raina in his second over. IPL debutant Mayank Matkande also impressed, bowling superbly – and economically – and rapping two key CSK batsmen, Ambati Rayadu and skipper M S Dhoni, in front of the wicket. He also later dismissed Deepak Chahar before finishing his quota of overs with a figure of 3 wickets for only 23 runs – exceptionally good in the shortest format of cricket.
At one point, Chennai were reeling at 106 for 7, and Kedar Jadhav already back in the dug-out retired hurt. At this point, perhaps, some complacency could have crept into Mumbai Indians bowlers. Far too many freebies were given to valiant Dwayne Bravo, who took the opportunities with both hands and continuously slammed balls out of the park. Bravo went on to hit 7 sixes in 3 overs and become the hero of the game before getting out for 68 off 30 balls.
Rohit Sharma might erred in asking Bumrah to bowl the penultimate over as the latter leaked some 20 runs before getting rid of Bravo. True, Bumrah is a death over specialist. But he clearly missed his length and Bravo took full advantage. Not that Burah was the only death-over option available to Sharma. He also had in the squad an able Mustafizur Rahman, who is considered the most lethal towards the end. Sharma could have trusted either Bumrah or Rahman, but he went with the former in the penultimate over and saved the latter for the last. That could have a misjudgment: There was little to defend going into the last over, with only 7 runs to go for CSK.
Bumrah’s over (19th) and McClenaghan’s before his could be safely called the biggest culprit of Mumbai Indians’ loss to CSK – the requirement of 47 runs off 18 balls got reduced to 7 off 6 by the time Rahman was pressed into service.
To sum it up, Mumbai’s failure against Bravo in both innings cost them the match. Not only did they give him too many runs but they also failed to score enough off the Caribbean’s last few overs while batting.
Another mistake on the part of Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma could have been his decision of not seeking a review when Kedar Jadhav was trapped by Markande in his first over but the LBW appeal was denied by the on-ground umpire. TV replays later suggested Jadhav could have been walking back dismissed had Sharma sought a review. Though Jadhav got injured and was retired hurt a few overs later, he returned to score the winning runs in the last over.