The first half of the IPL final turned exactly how Chennai Super Kings wanted it to. Mumbai got off to a quick start with Quinton de Kock dealing in sixes, then a subtle switch of ends for the fast bowlers got CSK breakthroughs.
CSK proceeded to dominate the next period with their spinners, ably marshalled by Mahendra Singh Dhoni slowing down the MI innings – by the time the 15th over came around, MI were 102-5 but they had held back Hardik Pandya and he had Keiron Pollard for company.
This is when the match really began:
Dhoni had avoided giving the ball to Dwayne Bravo and went to Shardul Thakur instead. The Mumbai pacer had bowled 3 overs for 21 runs and taken 2 wickets so far. And his bouncer had a mean edge to it – it got him the first two wickets. Now, he bowled another one to Hardik on the second ball of the 18th over. The batsman mistimed it and the ball ballooned to Suresh Raina, at cover, who dropped an easy catch. Hardik had scored 4 off 5 balls at this point. He ended up making 16 off 10.
Deepak Chahar’s over
The pressure was on. For the 19th over, Dhoni brought Deepak Chahar back into the attack. Mumbai were going for it now – 136/5 after 18 overs. The first ball was hit for four. The second was a beauty though... a full yorker that seemed to surprise Pandya. The good work continued. Rahul Chahar was dismissed two balls later and the over pulled Mumbai back once again. He managed to keep Pollard away from the strike too. 4 runs, 2 wickets... what an over.
The over: 4 W 0 W 0 0
With Hardik back in the dugout, Dhoni finally decided to give Bravo an over and for the first four balls of the final over of the innings, he delivered. He conceded just 1 run and Mitch McClenaghan was run out too. Then, off the last two balls, Pollard hit two fours. The big West Indian finished with 41 off 25 balls. If CSK backed their veterans, MI, too, had backed Pollard and he delivered when it mattered.
Du Plessis’ wicket
The man who had really made CSK tick in the last few matches was Faf du Plessis – he was getting them the quick starts and allowing the other batsmen to settle in. Against MI, he got his eye in initially and then against Krunal Pandya [in the 4th over] he exploded to life. The second ball was hit for four, the third for six, the fourth for four again. Immediately, memories of how they dominated Delhi Capitals came to mind.
But the rush of adrenaline got to him. On the last ball, he charged out again and Krunal fired it wide. The South African captain was stumped after making 26 off 13 and looking good for plenty more.
A life for Watson?
Watson went for the pull off the slower short ball from McClenaghan. He got the top edge and it went high, in the direction of Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan, clearly not at his best in terms of fitness, never even got close to the ball. He was unstable and didn’t look like he wanted the catch at all. Watson was on 33 off 27 at this point.
What Dhoni likes most about Raina’s batting is that he can just come in and get started. He doesn’t need a period to settle in but on this [and for most of this season], Raina has failed CSK. He needed to keep the momentum going but he just couldn’t. He pottered around, didn’t do much, wasted a review and then got out after making 8 off 14 balls.
It doesn’t happen very often, does it? Very rarely does one see Dhoni judge a run poorly. He picks the fielder and the spot well. And he trusts his legs to get him through. But, on this day, he was sold a dummy. He tried to steal a single off an overthrow but Ishan Kishan was up to the challenge. He scored a direct hit and the subsequent DRS replays found that the CSK skipper was clearly out of his ground from at least one angle. Nigel Llong took a long time before finally giving the batsman out. In a time game, CSK had lost their chase master for 2 (8 balls).
Another life for Watson
This time, Rahul Chahar dropped a dolly. Bumrah’s quick bouncer was far too good for Watson and the top edge flew in the direction of Rahul Chahar at deep backward square leg. But the ball popped out. Watson [on 56 off 47] and CSK lived again.
Watson wakes up
Now, Watson decided he needed to go for it. MI decided to give Krunal Pandya another bowl. The second, the third and the fourth ball were all dispatched for sixes. This was exactly what makes Watson so dangerous and MI had given him two chances to come good. 20 runs came off the 18th over and the equation suddenly changed to 18 runs off 12 balls.
Bumrah to the rescue!
With Bravo in the middle, Watson had looked calm and in control but Bumrah produced a 148.5 km/h delivery that took the edge and de Kock completed the job behind the stumps. It was a crucial wicket and it seemed to plant some doubt in Watson’s mind. The over eventually went for 9 runs but that was largely due to a gaffe by de Kock off the last ball where he let through four byes. Bumrah’s spell on final day was 4-0-14-2. Does anything faze him?
Malinga had had a match to forget. Coming into the last over, his figures read 3-0-42-0. His economy through the IPL 2019 season had been above 9. And CSK needed 9 off 6 balls. A single off the first and second balls, a two off the third. 5 off 3. CSK needed one four off the last 3 balls to ensure that the match at least went into the Super Over. But Watson was run out off the fourth delivery, looking strangely lethargic as he went for the second run and then Malinga produced the best slow off-cutter you will see to win MI the title off the last ball. CSK blinked. MI didn’t.