IPL 2017: Mumbai Indians win third title as Rising Pune Supergiant shrink at the end
Mumbai: Pandya 47, Rohit 24; Unadkat 2-19
Pune: Smith 51, Rahane 44; Johnson 3-26, Bumrah 2-26
Only six wickets down, yet fail to chase 130 to win? With the Indian Premier League title as good as yours at halfway?
The Supergiant? What a misnomer. When the stakes were at their highest, the giants of Pune’s IPL franchise crouched and hid.
How the Mumbai Indians won the IPL of 2017, who knows.
In the wake of the remarkable finish, after Dan Christian was run out going for a third run that would have at least forced a super over for Rising Pune Supergiant, Kieron Pollard proffered an opinion.
“We were playing team cricket all through the tournament,” Pollard, the Mumbai all-rounder, said in his TV interview.
“We haven’t had individual brilliance.”
It is a valid point. A brief scan of the usual barometers of individual success, and no Mumbai Indians players show up.
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Parthiv Patel, their leading batsman, was way down the run charts in eighth.
Hardik Pandya, their fastest-scoring batsman, was eighth best, too, in strike-rates for players who had score more than 100 runs in the tournament.
Jasprit Bumrah, surely their player of the tournament, was the third highest wicket-taker but not especially thrifty when set against the other leading bowlers.
Even in the final, they were half useless, batting like lemmings, before some late-over scrambling by Krunal Pandya at least gave them something to bowl at.
But then Bumrah, Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson – basically retired, and rarely spotted in the IPL this year – showed that canny death bowling can more or less trump all else in Twenty20 cricket.
Pune, in their second season as an IPL entity, had seemed so well placed after their bowling effort.
But even then, their ascendancy had not been brought about by stars.
At that point, they were more like the Supernobodies. Or the Supernondescripts.
Pune have some of the most luminous cricketers in the game on their payroll.
Steve Smith is the world’s best Test batsman, and hit the winning runs in the last World Cup final.
MS Dhoni has been there, won that, and got the sleeveless T-shirt.
He was playing his seventh IPL final. There have only been 10.
Dhoni’s celebrity does not really need any explaining.
But just to emphasise the point, there is a movie biopic about him currently showing on the in-flight entertainment system of the national carrier who sponsors the Mumbai Indians, last night’s opponents.
Pune’s US$2 million man, Ben Stokes, was not there.
He had done his bit in getting them to the final, but had left in preparation for England’s tilt at the Champions Trophy.
Stokes still showed his colours, even though he had to watch the game from afar on television.
He posted a picture on his Instagram account showing that the lights in the room he was watching from had been tinted purple in support of Pune.
But Pune’s final heroes were their base-rate players. Like Washington Sundar, the 17 year old off spinner who went for 13 from four overs, half of which were bowled in the power-play overs.
He was basically bowling straight breaks, but returned the most economical figures in an IPL final to date.
Shardul Thakur, a 25-year-old journeyman of little renown, also milked his time in the limelight, with a theatrical catch and a savvy run out.
And Jaydev Unadkat added an exclamation mark to his fine tournament with 2-19, one of which was brilliant caught and bowled.
They must have thought they had done their bit, as they turned around with Mumbai restricted to 129-8.
But despite the enviable stardust in their batting line up, the dream of the so-called Supergiant died.
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Updated: July 21, 2017 06:59 PM