Aditya Tare pulled held his nerve to send Mumbai Indians to the play-offs © PTI
Mumbai Indians (MI) have developed an expertise in producing breathtaking matches and they just bettered it with the sensational win over Rajasthan Royals to qualify for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 playoffs. Abhijit Banare looks back at the key moments and highlights that unfolded in the IPL 7 match.
Let’s start with the most unnoticed and yet the most important highlight of the day. At toss time, Rohit Sharma told Ravi Shastri, “I have got a good feeling today and I believe that we can win this.” Belief can make impossible things happen and you saw a live example at the Wankhede Stadium as Mumbai Indians surprised themselves. Below are the highlights and game-changing moments of the match:
Toss: Mumbai Indians’ first task was to win the toss. On a flat deck, it was difficult to restrict the opposition to 42 runs short of the target. MI had to chase a target rather than setting one.
Rajasthan Royals fiddling with batting order: It’s bizarre why an in-form batsman like Karun Nair would be shuffled around in a crunch game. And equally baffling was the absence of Ajinkya Rahane at the top, who provides lot of calm in the midst of chaos. During one of the flash interviews during the game, Rahul Dravid did say that a lot of thought goes in to the changes which is difficult to explain in brief. But Watson playing out a maiden in the powerplay was as game-changing as Kieron Pollard’s sensational catch to dismiss him.
Rise of the two youngsters: When Sachin Tendulkar says ‘he has a good head on his shoulders’, you have to be a special bloke. Sanju Samson walked in to the match sans his fluent touch. The 20s and 30s weren’t being converted in to solid innings. But under such pressure, Samson showed excellent application. The reason Samson’s innings ranks higher than Karun is because he saw his skipper struggling with 1 from 12 balls. In the bid to up the ante, Samson could’ve very well departed before Watson. But he played orthodox strokes and fluently collected the runs.
Karun Nair’s Royal patch: T20 can be a cruel game. IPL has built many careers but it’s no easy task to consistently perform in a format where luck plays more role than any other format. But Karun is yet another solid player. Unlike most big-hitters, Karun is seen timing the ball to the boundaries more often than muscling it. In yet another pressure match, Karun, along with Samson forged a potential game-changing partnership of 100 in 57 balls. And more significantly they boosted the run-rate and the score to a stage where other power hitters like Brad Hodge and James Faulkner can add on MI’s frustrations.
It’s tough to keep looking away from these two players for a national berth if they continue playing this way. Karun’s performance in IPL has come at the back of an already impressive run in the Ranji Trophy.
Perfect finish: Time and again, Hodge and Faulkner have proved to be the finest finishers in the shortest format. They hammered 49 in 26 balls with four sixes and two fours.
Mumbai’s intent: As mentioned earlier, Mumbai were never going to give up on anything. Things could have gone either way, but Michael Hussey and Lendl Simmons gave the hope by starting off brilliantly. Though Simmons was dismissed quickly, 53 in four overs meant that MI maintained the belief that they could pull this off.
At 61 for three with Kieron Pollard gone, Mumbai could have lost their steam, but Rohit Sharma’s cameo and then Anderson-Rayudu’s 81–run stand in 5.1 overs showed that nothing is impossible. They hit 11 fours and two sixes.
Corey Anderson show: No prizes for guessing why the Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians reposed so much faith in the respective misfiring explosive batsmen. It’s that one innings which completely changes the fortunes of the team and they are capable of it. The 22-ball 72 from Pathan was one hurricane effort but Anderson had to play a bigger innings. While Anderson was unstoppable, Rajasthan Royals bowlers committed a grave crime by allowing Anderson to consistently aim at the cow-corner - an area which Anderson prefers. Ultimately his stats read 95 from 44 balls, nine fours and six sixes.
Eight needed from two balls:
Perfect hit by Ambati Rayudu: Anderson’s effort would have been rendered useless if Rayudu had not hit that big six off the second ball of the 14th over. Rayudu’s blitzkrieg in the over from Watson was equally important to relieve the pressure off Anderson. With 54 needed in 21 balls, Rayudu hammered three consecutive boundaries. His 10-ball 30 changed the match for Mumbai.
The confusion: While Ambati Rayudu was in tears after being run-out with MI one run short of qualifying, both teams should have been well aware of the equations. One might think it was heat of the moment but unfortunately it wasn’t. Both the camps were equally perplexed. In an era where teams are accompanied with analysts and statisticians, losing track of the situation was the last thing they should’ve done. It not only let the steam off but made MI more determined to an already wounded Royals.
Biggest Game Changer: six needed after scores were tied
a) Faulkner’s death bowling - Faulkner traumatised Ishant Sharma in October 2013 with a 30-run over, but he needs to look back at his own bowling. Barring a back-of-the-hand slower delivery, Faulkner has been terrible in the death and worse is the fact that captains have reposed faith on him. Even in previous games he was hammered and at such a crunch situation it was another wrong card played by Watson.
b) Aditya Tare keeping his calm: No words can describe the mental pressure which Tare was battling when he walked to the crease. But the ability to stay calm and work the leg-side dolly over square-leg requires sheer calm. Even a set batsman like Anderson couldn’t dispatch a full-toss from Pravin Tambe earlier.
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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)