The incredible grand finale, the ‘El Classico’ of the IPL 2019 season, turned out to be a humdinger as Mumbai Indians pipped Chennai Super Kings by one solitary run to grab their fourth title.
The game see-sawed back and forth and went down to the wire in the final over which saw Mumbai emerge on top by a whisker.
Here we take a look at some factors that tilted the match Mumbai's way.
1. The Toss
The toss, always a psychological factor, played a role, even if a small one, in Mumbai's win.
The previous three IPL finals between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings (in 2010, 2013 and 2015) were all won by the team batting first. The Hyderabad surface, where the final was played, was also in favour of the team batting first this year. Four of the seven games this year at the venue were won by the team batting first.
After electing to bat first, Mumbai Indians found the surface slightly less tacky to bat on and could trust the bounce and pace more. Chennai were saved by a one-man show from Shane Watson but the other batsmen struggled for timing with the pitch getting slower.
2. Using Pollard Above Hardik Pandya
A game-changing decision by Mumbai Indians was to send Kieron Pollard in to bat ahead of Hardik Pandya. While Pollard has been inconsistent with his returns this year, Hardik has struck runs at a rate of 193 and had scored 370 runs this year before the final. His outstanding batting in the death overs has time and again saved Mumbai this season but even at the fall of a fourth wicket in 13th over, Mumbai chose to keep Hardik back and push Pollard over him.
The West Indian has a commanding record in IPL finals. In 5 matches, he had scored 171 runs at an average of 57 and a strike rate of 194.32. In the finals of the 2013 IPL season against CSK, Pollard had played a crucial role, making 60 in 32 balls.
All of that might have played a role in the decision and it worked wonders. Pollard slammed 41 in 25 balls with three sixes and three fours to take Mumbai to a defendable total.
3. Suresh Raina's Knock and Dhoni’s Run Out
Suresh Raina had a forgettable IPL season, making 383 runs in 17 matches at 23.93. On Sunday, he played a game-losing innings for Chennai Super Kings after walking in at one down. The experienced campaigner was worked over by the Mumbai seam bowlers who attacked his short ball weakness. Raina hung around for 14 balls making 8 runs at a despicable strike rate of 57.14. In the end, Chennai just needed more deliveries to win the game and Raina had wasted far too many.
However, with Dhoni still in, CSK had a chance. The skipper got off to his customary slow start and made just 2 in 8 balls before an overthrow and the resultant chaos saw him look to sneak in a second run, only to be caught short by a brilliant direct hit from Ishan Kishan. Debates surrounding the run-out were put to rest by the front-on angle of the replay which showed Dhoni hadn't made his ground.
4. Rahul Chahar's Incredible Spell
Spin hasn't been Mumbai's forte this IPL season. Their spinners had taken just 26 wickets - the second worst by a team this season - before the final, at an average of 27.31. Rahul Chahar, though, was different. The young leg-spinner had 12 wickets in 12 matches and was the pick of Mumbai's bowlers alongside Jasprit Bumrah this year.
He put in a compelling display in the finals of the season, conceding just 14 runs in his four overs. He beat the bat consistently and was right on the money more often than not against a side which were specialists in choking opposition teams with spin. Chahar's brilliant spell meant that CSK couldn't run away with the game in the middle overs despite Shane Watson being set and firing.
5. Jasprit Bumrah's Outstanding Death Overs
Chennai Super Kings had the best batting average in the death overs this year heading into the finals. Stopping them, with Watson and Dwayne Bravo set at the crease, was going to be difficult.
Mumbai, though, had Jasprit Bumrah and the sensational Indian seamer choked the run-flow in two outstanding death overs. He gave away just four runs in the 17th over of the innings and then watched helplessly as Krunal Pandya conceded 20 to undo his efforts. CSK needed just 18 from 12 balls but unperturbed by the lop-sided numbers, Bumrah bowled another pacy penultimate over.
The over panned out pretty well for MI despite de Kock letting through a boundary off the final ball.
150 kmph - 1 run
148.5 kmph - OUT - Bravo is caught behind
148 kmph - 2 runs
147 kmph - dot
147 kmph - 2 runs
143 kmph - missed by de Kock and the bye goes for four
6. Decision to Bring Back Malinga for The Final Over
Rohit Sharma had tried Malinga against Watson earlier in the middle of the innings and it proved to be disastrous as the Australian slammed Malinga's half-volleys for a hat-trick of boundaries. But with the Krunal gamble not working in the 18th over, Rohit decided to bank on his trusted lieutenant for the crucial final over.
And Malinga delivered.
He gave little away with his searing yorkers and the first three balls resulted in just singles as Chennai struggled to score off him. Off the fourth ball, Watson was run out and Mumbai were suddenly in the game although a double off the second last ball brought the equation down to 2 in 1 ball.
Malinga then nailed a slow off-cutter at the base of the stumps to trap Thakur in front and win Mumbai the game and the IPL by one run.
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