IPL 2017 Qualifier-Pune vs Mum
RPS 162/4 (20.0 Ovs)
MI 142/9 (20.0 Ovs)
Rising Pune Supergiant won by 20 runs.
Things weren’t as easy as for Rising Pune Supergiant as the eventual result of their Qualifier 1 match against Mumbai Indians would suggest. A 20-run victory in the 20-over format can be termed as a comfortable one, but it wasn’t that comfortable at the start of the game. Asked to bat on a Wankhede wicket that was slow in nature, RPS had to put in the hard yards, especially after a sluggish start where they lost impactful batsmen like Rahul Tripathi and Steven Smith.
Solid knocks by Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary helped RPS in their recovery but it appeared they would still fall short of a par score, having managed only 121 by the end of the 18th over. This was when Rohit Sharma decided to give Mitchell McClenaghan the penultimate over although Malinga had one left in the kitty. The rationale behind that might have been the way McClenaghan had kept both Tiwary and MS Dhoni quiet in the 17th over, prompting the skipper to throw the ball at the New Zealand pacer.
The move, however, back-fired. Starting the over with a full-toss, that was also above waist level, the left-armer was first hit for a four by Tiwary and the subsequent free hit was duly dispatched down the ground over the fence. This set the template for RPS’s finish as what followed was carnage from Dhoni, whose brandishing blade was no match for the MI bowlers.
Two sixes came off Dhoni’s bat in what turned out to be a very expensive McClenaghan over which yielded 26 runs. Deciding against giving Malinga the final over, Rohit turned to Bumrah, who’s ranked highly among Indian bowlers who can do a good job at the death. However, he too was unable to stop a rampaging Dhoni, who hit the bowler for two more sixes to muscle RPS to a total of 162, which unlike other games at the Wankhede, turned out to be more than a par score.
“The momentum shifted during the last two overs. Initially when I was batting with Ajinkya there was a strategic timeout where the coach and the captain (spoke to us), the four of us decided that we can take the total to 160,” Tiwary said at the post-match press conference. “We felt that the wicket was was holding for the spinners and the pacers as well. (Around 160 was a par score) provided we executed the (shots against) slower ones and the variations in the right way. We were struggling to do that until MS [Dhoni] bhai played outstanding shots. It was not easy against Bumrah but he showed why he’s such a highly talented player, with ability hit the best bowlers in the IPL for 2-3 sixes in crucial situations.”
Another ploy that discernibly proved counter-productive was the bowlers’ decision to not bowl the yorkers. Their earlier success in keeping Dhoni quiet by cramping him for room might have tempted them to continue in the same design, but their cards were out in the open, for Dhoni was hanging back in the crease in anticipation of the deliveries in his swinging arc. It was only after he was hit for two sixes that Bumrah, one of the better exponents of the toe length deliveries, bowled yorkers and the end result was two dot deliveries. But the damage had already been done and RPS had achieved the total they were hoping for.
“These kinds of things can happen in this format when a set batsman is batting and someone like Dhoni is batting. Obviously we were in control (until the 18th over) but I wouldn’t say because of those two overs that we lost the game,” reckoned Parthiv Patel, who came to the defence of the bowlers.
“If you’ve seen in the last couple of games or even last year, he [Bumrah] has been successful against Dhoni. He got him out in the last game here with the kind of length that he was bowling (today). He [Dhoni] obviously is a good player, so you sometimes have to give it to the calibre of the batsman as well. There’s nothing taking away from Bumrah. He’s been bowling brilliantly in the tournament but for one odd game like this, you have to give credit to someone who has played so many knocks like these.”
On a wicket that didn’t aid assertive stroke-play, it was important for the MI batsmen to dig in like their counterparts did. But none of them, barring Parthiv could adjust to the ways of the pitch, which meant that MI will have to make use of their second shot at making it to the final. Such as loss can sometimes dent a team’s confidence but Parthiv chose to look forward and treat situations as they come.
“Not really,” replied Parthiv when asked if the loss was a confidence-denter. “We’ve played well throughout the tournament and that is the reason why we’ve got another chance of playing the Eliminator. For us it is important to forget about what has happened today and treat the next game as a semifinal.”.