The experience of Lasith Malinga trumped the Shane Watsonâ€™s determination, allowing Mumbai Indians to clinch a last-ball thriller and winning their fourth IPL title, the most by any team in history. Malinga, whose first three overs were plundered for 42 runs, lifted himself from the ashes and delivered an admirable final over which needed MI nine to defend.
The equation bowled down to two needed off the final delivery, the possibility of yet another Super Over looming large. But Malinga sent down a slower delivery, foxing Shardul Thakur. Up went the finger and Mumbai maintained their untainted record against Chennai this year. With the win, MI get the better of CSK for a third time.
Watson had saved his best for the big match final. Last year, he had sizzled with a match-winning century which led CSK to a third IPL title, and on Sunday, for a second season in a row, the former Australia opener chose the biggest occasion to rise up to. Enjoying a charmed life, Watson seemed to have put CSK on course, but his run out in the final over, turned the game on its head, and MI cashed in.
Watson was aided by some poor fielding from MI, who put him down not once, not twice, but three times. Add to that the overthrows and the byes, MI were extremely sloppy. Despite picking up three wickets in quick succession, Watson drilled 20 runs off the 15th over by Malinga, which eased the nerves. Dwayne Bravoâ€™s dismissal offered MI a ray of hope, and it was down to 13 needed off seven balls. Of all the people, Quinton de Kock behind the stumps failed to collect a Bumrah bouncer and the ball raced away for a boundary. But as it turned out, like Watson, Malinga too had saved his best for the last. If this is indeed their final IPL, what a way to go out.
Watson hadnâ€™t done badly this year, heading into the title decider with a couple of half-centuries. Coming off his and Faf du Plessisâ€™ match-winning stand against the Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2, the openers began the chase positively with a couple of early boundaries before the South Africa captain launched a six and a couple of boundaries off Krunal Pandya. However, a rush of adrenaline got the better of du Plessis, and after stepping out to a wide and full delivery, he was out stumped by fellow countryman Quinton de Kock.
After Suresh Raina and Watson had added 40 for the second wicket, a quicker one from legspinner Chahar trapped the left-hander out LBW, although he went upstairs for an unsuccessful review. That is when MI bounced back. Jasprit Bumrah beat Ambati Rayudu for pace, with his bouncer kissing his glove and landing in de Kockâ€™s gloves. The telling blow came in the form of MS Dhoni, who ran himself out sneaking for an overthrow.
With wickets falling in quick succession, Watson, who had scored a century for CSK in last yearâ€™s final, decided to take matters into his own hands. And the bowler he targeted was Malinga. He decided to inflict further damage of the fast bowler by creaming him for three boundaries in a row in the 16th over, after Bravo had muscled Malinga for a six already.
Clearly, MI had to get Watson. Malinga had a chance when he had a top edge off Watson coming his way, but he spilled it to give the former Australia batsman a reprieve. It wasnâ€™t the only life he had, with Rahul Chahar also putting down a bullet return catch. Three catches dropped, and even that wasnâ€™t enough to prevent Chennai from going down.