Questions will be asked about some of the decisions taken in the thrill-a-minute IPL final of twists and turns here on Sunday.
Shane Watson conjured a blinder of an innings when it mattered but did he suffer a brain fade while going for a second run off the fourth delivery off that dramatic last over?
Watson had squeezed a Lasith Malinga yorker to deep point and set for a run. But to everyone’s surprise, he wanted a second. Ravindra Jadeja was initially not keen, however. Watson wanted strike, and his partner gave in.
It was always going to be hard for Watson, not at his fittest, to complete the second run. He was caught short of the crease. It was a suicidal second run.
Now Watson could have refused the single and backed himself to unleash the winning blows off the final two balls. Or, he could have been content with a single and allowed Ravindra Jadeja, a compelling stroke-maker, to take strike and close out the game.
In the event, Jadeja was stranded at the non-striker’s end and once it was Lasith Malinga versus Shardul Thakur, it was advantage Mumbai.
Pressures of a final
The pressures of the occasion in a Cup final can cloud the thought process.
The mercurial M.S. Dhoni’s run-out — running for an overthrow and succumbing to a direct hit from Ishan Kishan — was loaded in controversy.
But did Dhoni’s initial reaction give something away? The CSK skipper began walking back to the pavilion before turning back and waiting for the verdict.
It was an agonisingly close run-out — and many felt Dhoni had been done in by the decision — but a subsequent picture, from the bowler’s end and facing Dhoni, confirmed the CSK skipper was, indeed, out.
Credit to Mumbai Indians for fighting back strongly after a below-par score. The side has variety in its attack and a never-say-die attitude. Amid lapses on the field, there were flashes of brilliance at critical moments.
The deceptive Jasprit Bumrah’s variations and control were phenomenal. His action is unique, so is his temperament.
He alters his speed brilliantly, his yorkers are invariably on target at the death, and he employs the short-ball judiciously.
Rahul Chahar is a big find for MI and his four overs for just 14 and the wicket of Suresh Raina in the final was all about turn, bounce and accuracy.
Kieron Pollard, despite the doubters, showed that the flame is still burning. His 25-ball unbeaten 41 was a massive factor in MI’s record fourth title triumph.
Rohit Sharma had his finger on the pulse of the game, rung in the changes with tactical nous. He’s got a flair for captaincy.
The old warhorse
And the nerveless Lasith Malinga, the old warhorse, can still whip up moments of magic. This slinger is a winner.
CSK was too dependent on Dhoni and Faf du Plessis, and its middle-order floundered. Raina needs to take a break and reassess his game. Ambati Rayudu was a disappointment and Kedar Jadhav struggled.
The big positive for CSK was some exceptional seam and swing bowling by Deepak Chahar, who backed his skill with heart. He hurt sides — with the new ball and at the death.
And the ageless leg-spinner Imran Tahir — this IPL’s highest wicket-taker with 26 — bamboozled batsmen with his guile, two-way turn and fizz off the pitch.
As the dust settled, Mumbai Indians sung and danced. Yet, it was a close thing... very close.
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