Krunal Pandya © AFP
Krunal Pandya © AFP

The Indian T20 league’s 2017 final was a nail-biter. 130 was the target set by Mumbai for Pune. It was just a matter of a run that handed Mumbai their third title. The game boiled down to the penultimate over. 23 were needed of the final two overs.

Jasprit Bumrah was expected to be wrecker-in-chief. Steven Smith and Manoj Tiwary played cautiously taking singles before Smith took off and smashed a six over long-off. It came down to 11 off 6. Mitchell Johnson, Mumbai’s veteran bowler after Malinga, was introduced into the attack.

Tiwary made the chase look easy with a boundary off the very first delivery. But the aftermath left the Pune dugout in a state of shock. Tiwary was dismissed the very next delivery and the equation then read 7 off 4. Johnson was on a hat-trick when he removed Smith. Mumbai were already celebrating as though they had lifted the trophy.

Johnson missed his hat-trick as Washington Sundar took a quick single. Christian took a couple in the next, leaving just 4 required from the final ball. And that urge to take quick runs saw Sundar and Christian caught in a mix-up, handing another title to Mumbai.

But the hero that day for Mumbai was Krunal Pandya. During Mumbai’s innings, Krunal entered the crease when his side was tattering at 41 for 3. Krunal received no support from his partners and played a lone battle of 38-ball 47 to take Mumbai to sub-par total of 129.

In a quick chat with Mumbai channel, Krunal recollects those final moments and what was running through his mind: “The scoreboard read 80 for 7. The first thing that came to mind at that time was that no matter what happens, I will not get out till the 19th or 20th over. When the 19 th over started, I said to myself that now I have to smash and it worked out. When I was taking the leg-stump guard, I kept telling myself ‘we can’t lose. I have to fight for the team.’”

No wonder Krunal considers that innings to be one of the best in the T20 league.