Rajasthan Royals needed 51 runs to win in three overs the other night: They had done it with three balls to spare, thanks to Rahul Tewatia's once-in-a-lifetime performance. Here, in Dubai, Mumbai Indians needed 104 in six overs " a target steeper than what the Royals had needed, for they had to maintain that rate over twice the duration. But Ishan Kishan (99 in 58 balls) and Kieron Pollard (60 not out in 24) took 14, 10, 27, 22, 12, and 18, and the match ended in a tie.
Mind you, they might even have won, for they needed five off the last two, but Kishan's slog sweep went straight to Devdutt Padikkal just short of the ropes. Then, Pollard slapped the last ball to the mid-wicket fence.
On another day, Rohit Sharma might have sent Kishan in the Super Over, or at least have him bat at three instead of himself. Unfortunately, as Rohit explained after the match, Kishan was too drained to bat after his performance under conditions so difficult they left even AB de Villiers dehydrated.
AB deVilliers and skipper Virat Kohli took RCB over the line in the Super Over against MI. Image credit: Samuel Rajkumar / Sportzpics for BCCI
With only eight to defend, Jasprit Bumrah " despite finishing on the losing side " demonstrated why he is hailed as one of the finest. De Villiers got a single off the first yorker. Then Virat Kohli, who had walked out himself despite his ordinary form, semi-pulled a bouncer for a single (Trent Boult had positioned himself well inside in anticipation).
Bumrah followed with the age-old double bluff, bouncing at de Villiers, who overturned a decision of caught behind. Now, faced with two choices, Bumrah opted for the triple bluff. De Villiers hooked, and was certainly not in control; the ball found the top edge and fell just short of the fine-leg boundary.
If they had that deep fine leg, the top edge that decided the match in favour of Bangalore might have sealed it for Mumbai.
This match was another six-fest (26 in all). Both teams scored in excess of 200, which provides perspective to Washington Sundar's 4-0-12-1. He bowled 13 dot balls and did not concede a boundary (while defending 202, it must be remembered). Three of his overs were bowled in the Powerplay. Sundar was easily the outstanding bowler of the match and should feel disappointed at not being named Player of the Match on a flat pitch.
Coming on to bowl in the second over, he cramped Rohit thrice without conceding a run. The fourth ball was probably not short enough for the pull, but Rohit backed himself to play the shot. He holed out to deep mid-wicket.
Sundar bowled straight, mot allowing the batsmen room, and took the pace off the ball when needed, making strokeplay difficult. Given that none of his teammates conceded less than 10.75 an over and nobody in the Mumbai team went for less than 7.67, Sundar was probably the difference between the sides.
If Mumbai got 101 off the last six overs, Bangalore were not far behind either. Earlier in the match, they had finished things off with 14, 13, 13, 18, 10, 17, and 20 " a whopping 105 off the last seven. This was largely due to de Villiers (55 not out in 24 balls) and Shivam Dube (27 not out in 10), who added 47 in 17 balls, which is exactly what Mumbai got off their last 17.
Given that the explosive ends to both innings ended in the identical totals, the obvious question becomes, did Bangalore have a start as ordinary as Mumbai's? With Padikkal and Aaron Finch both getting fifties, they seemed to have started better, the only blip being Virat Kohli's struggle on either side of the 10th over.
While Finch's 35-ball 52 was a reasonable effort, RCB may want to re-evaluate Padikkal's role at the top. It is evident that he was asked to bat through, but just like KL Rahul the other night, Padikkal probably left that final onslaught for far too late. The pitch was flatter than what he had batted on against Sunrisers Hyderabad, where he scored a 42-ball 56. It might have cost them a wicket, but it would not have mattered, for they had Gurkeerat Singh, Isuru Udana, and Sundar waiting in the dugout.
For Mumbai, Boult, Rahul Chahar, and Krunal Pandya went for under 10, which was an achievement given the conditions. Bumrah's 4-0-42-0 may seem ordinary, but they were largely due to the 27 runs de Villiers took off the 8 balls Bumrah bowled at him. The remaining 16 balls went for 15.
It has been three matches, and Hardik is yet to bowl a single ball, a trend that is likely to continue at least for the first half of the tournament. It is evident that Hardik, following his surgeries, will probably focus on evolving as a specialist batsman, or at most a batting all-rounder.
In other words, Mumbai are unlikely to enjoy the advantage they had with Hardik, Krunal, and Pollard in the middle-order, and will have to include that extra specialist bowler every time.