Mumbai Indians came through in a nerve-wracking finale to the 2017 IPL season, to win their third title, after defeating Rising Pune Supergiant by one run, at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, in Hyderabad.
Mumbai, who had come into the final on the back of a string of wins in the league stage, surprisingly decided to bat first, despite the fact that they have won more games while chasing.
Captain Rohit Sharma would have immediately regretted this decision, as MI wickets kept tumbling one after the other, after Jaydev Unadkat (2-19) gave them a cracker of a start, removing openers Parthiv Patel and Lendl Simmons.
MI never really seemed to recover from this as Pune kept taking wickets at regular intervals, to stifle the MI run rate. Captain Rohit Sharma rallied around with hometown boy Ambati Rayudu, to put up a 33-run partnership.
However, Rayudu was brilliantly run-out by Smith, and Rohit Sharma fell to Adam Zampa, while trying to up the ante, leaving the lower order exposed.
Unlike the others, Krunal Pandya stuck around the crease, holding the innings together, as he notched-up a 50-run partnership with Mitchell Johnson, taking Mumbai’s total to 129-8, as he perished on the last ball of the innings.
What seemed to be an easy target for RPS, turned out to be a nightmare, as the MI bowlers came out with a definitive plan to stifle the runs and take it to the end.
Pune looked to be comfortably in control for most part of their innings, despite the fact that the asking rate kept creeping up from around run-a-ball to 7s and 8s.
Ajinkya Rahane (44) gave them a good start, which was carried forward by Steve Smith (51). However, the Mumbai bowlers struck at the crucial moments, removing Rahane, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (10) at a time when Pune would ideally have been looking to accelerate.
However, Pune still looked to be within touching distance in the last over, with Smith and Manoj Tiwary at the crease. To make matters worse for Mumbai, Tiwary swept Johnson for a 4 off the first ball of the over.
However, the experienced Aussie paceman came back brilliantly. He removed both of Pune’s in-form batsmen, first Tiwary, and then Smith off the next two deliveries, to bring Mumbai right back into the match.
For the first time in the match, Mumbai seemed to have the upper hand; and this was at a stage, when just three balls were left for the game to end.
In the end, Daniel Christian could not get Pune over the line, as Johnson stuck to his tight deliveries.
This win makes Mumbai a three-time IPL champion, a feat that has never before been achieved. Rohit Sharma also becomes the first captain in IPL history to win the competition thrice.