Lions wins a last-ball thriller

The anchor of the Lions’ third successive victory was opening batsman Aaron Finch's unbeaten fifty -- his third consecutive half-century. It was only fitting that with 11 runs required off the last over, Finch hit the winning runs off Jasprit Bumrah.

Aaron Finch blasted his third half-century on the trot. His unbeaten 67 guided his team to victory.   -  PTI

Dhawal Kulkarni (left) celebrates after dismissing Hardik Pandya. Kulkarni picked another wicket and gave away only 19 runs in his four overs.   -  PTI

It’s been a week since the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League began. Still, the T20 fans were waiting for a last-ball finish. The wishes were fulfilled on Saturday night, with debutant Gujarat Lions edging past defending champion Mumbai Indians in a nail-biting finish.

The anchor of the Lions’ third successive victory was opening batsman Aaron Finch's unbeaten fifty -- his third consecutive half-century. It was only fitting that with 11 runs required off the last over, Finch hit the winning runs off Jasprit Bumrah.

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While Finch, struggling with cramps towards the end of the game, scored the all-important boundary with a pull shot, it was Dhawal Kulkarni’s lofted cover drive off the third ball that tilted the balance in the visiting team’s favour.

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KULKARNI, TAMBE WRECK MUMBAI'S BATTING

That wasn’t the only contribution of Kulkarni against his former IPL team. The spearhead of Mumbai’s pace attack in domestic cricket combined with another Mumbaikar in the Lions’ jersey, legspinner Pravin Tambe, to restrict Mumbai Indians to 143 for eight.

Kulkarni justified captain Suresh Raina’s decision to bowl with an accurate three-over spell. He enticed captain Rohit Sharma into a flick straight to Shadab Jakati at square leg off the third ball he bowled on his Lions debut. In his next over, Kulkarni forced a mistimed pull off Hardik Pandya’s willow off a short ball and Jakati was again in action at square leg.

The Lions continued to retain control with Mumbai Indians having trudged to 59 for three at the halway stage. Raina then introduced Tambe into the attack and off the first ball, he coerced Kieron Pollard to play the ball to fellow Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo’s safe palms at long-off. And in his next over, Parthiv Patel’s struggle came to an end with a pull to James Faulkner at deep midwicket.

That turned out to be Tambe’s last ball of the evening but he had left an impact in his two overs.

THE PANDYA BROTHERS

At 99 for seven in 17 overs, Mumbai Indians were in danger of failing to cross the mediocre total of 121 last Saturday. However, Southee and Krunal Pandya, Hardik’s sibling who was on his IPL debut, ensured that Mumbai had a total to defend with an 18-ball 42-run partnership at the end.

Krunal’s debut resulted in siblings featuring in the same team for the first time in IPL. McCullum (Brendon and Nathan), Pathan (Irfan and Yusuf) and Marsh (Shaun and Mitchell) brothers have played in the same match earlier but not in the same jersey. Left-handed Krunal did make an impact despite batting at No. 8.