Lasith Malinga was not even supposed to play this game. But he did, and he sealed Mumbai Indians’ first win of the season in controversial circumstances, defending 17 runs off the last over against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
They never do when AB de Villiers remains unbeaten. He’s been not out in fifteen run-chases in IPL and his team won each of those games, until tonight happened. Mumbai Indians were defending only 187, and de Villiers’ 41-ball 70 had set them up for a rare win over Mumbai in Bengaluru when a death-bowling exhibition showed exactly what RCB missed.
The narrow six-run win by Mumbai Indians over Royal Challengers Bangalore is their first of the season. RCB, on the other hand, now have two losses in two games.
Off his last ball, when Shivam Dube needed to hit a six to take the game into a Super Over, Malinga overstepped, but the umpire missed the obvious no-ball, leaving the home side shaking in disbelief. The result was particularly harsh on AB de Villiers, who was stranded at the other end on 70*. Before this match, de Villiers’ team had never lost in the IPL when he remained unbeaten during a chase.
The Bumrah-Malinga death bowling show
Two deliveries from Jasprit Bumrah to AB de Villiers in the 19th over sum up Mumbai’s phenomenal death bowling. A pinpoint yorker wide outside off and then a searing short ball as de Villiers crouched to play his famous scoop over cow corner. Failed to connect both times. Even Quinton de Kock smiled behind the stumps. And with 17 to defend off the last over, Lasith Malinga rediscovered his magic, recovered from the first-ball six that Shivam Dube hit and bowled five balls that only fetched singles.
Bumrah finished with 3 for 20. In his last two overs, the 17th and 19th of the innings, he gave away only five legal runs while picking the wickets of Colin de Grandhomme and Shimron Hetmyer. That was where the game was won and lost.
The no-ball controversy
Six runs were needed off the last ball for a Super Over. Malinga’s front foot was clearly over the line. The umpire didn’t call, leading to a huge post-match furore as it reopened the debate around the constant non-vigilation of no-balls in cricket unless a wicket falls. “We are playing at the IPL level and not playing club cricket. The umpires should have had their eyes open. That is a ridiculous call at the last ball. If it is a game of margins, I don’t know what is happening. They should have been more sharp and careful out there,” Kohli, furious, said after the match.
The Hardik Pandya finish
He defended the first ball back to Umesh Yadav, was involved in a mix-up with Krunal on the second, and saw his brother get out in the deep on the third. But Hardik grew into his innings and finished unbeaten on 32 off 14 balls – a knock that saw 2 fours and 3 sixes bludgeoned. Two of the sixes came off Mohammed Siraj in the last over of the innings, taking Mumbai’s tally to a decent 187 for 8 at the end of 20 overs. This is the finish Mumbai didn’t allow RCB, who need to up their game with the bat and ball in the death overs.
You don’t drop AB de Villiers…
In hindsight, this let-off wasn’t quite as dramatic as Mohammed Shami’s no-ball against Andre Russell because RCB lost but it was still something. Mayank Markande likes his googly – IPL 2018 was about that among many other things – but he bowled a legbreak here to de Villiers, who was facing his first ball. Got the edge, simple catch coming Yuvraj Singh’s way at slip, and boom it’s down. And since when does Yuvraj field at slip?
Though Mumbai won in the end, the victory could have been so much easier had that catch been taken.
Chahal: The perfect uneconomical figures
Yuzvendra Chahal traded economy for a host of wickets on the night, and his figures of 4 for 38 told a modern tale. Take this: Yuvraj Singh had hit him for three consecutive sixes in an over, sending many a Twitter factions, that may or may not have included Stuart Broad, into pandemonium. And it was easy then to fire one flat on the stumps and just get away, you know. But the fourth ball was still a full googly, flighted enough to entice a loft and find the fielder at long-off. “I am used to all these things,” he said later of the pressure built by that hat-trick of sixes by one of the greatest hitters of them all.
Chahal’s other wickets tonight were also about well-timed breakthroughs. Mumbai Indians had accumulated 52 runs in a rewarding powerplay when Quinton de Kock was bowled by Chahal in his first over. Suryakumar Yadav fell to a wide legbreak after a breezy 38 off 24 and Kieron Pollard was caught in the deep trying to accelerate. When Chahal finished his quota in the 16th over, Mumbai had the Pandya brothers at the crease with a combined tally of one run. That Hardik took off is a different story altogether.
Kohli vs Bumrah, Kohli vs Hardik
These were battles Kohli couldn’t lose, even if he did. Bumrah’s first ball to Kohli was short and perfect, Kohli’s pull shot not so much and earned him a cheap boundary. Second ball was edged through to third man for another boundary and the third serenely blazed through point. The story against Hardik was something similar: an LBW appeal, a scrambled-seam delivery that beat his outside edge, an edge towards gully, and then two beautiful boundaries.
Eerie that it was Bumrah and Hardik who combined to pick Kohli’s wicket .. and with a short ball.
Where the teams go from here
Mumbai travel to Mohali to play KXIP in latter’s first home game of the season on Saturday (March 30) whereas RCB travel to Hyderabad to take on SRH on Sunday (March 31).