In perhaps the most thrilling last-ball finish in this season, Dwayne Smith, playing his first game for Mumbai Indians this year, smashed three boundaries off the final three deliveries to avert what seemed a certain choke from the hosts at Wankhede Stadium. Mumbai Indians were in control for a sizeable chunk of the chase, courtesy a century stand between Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma, before the middle order imploded. When the situation was at its most dire, Smith hit the straight boundary three times.
Mumbai Indians needed 16 off the final over with three wickets in hand. Ben Hilfenhaus conceded a single off the first ball, yorked Lasith Malinga with the second, and a single off the third left the hosts needing 14 off the last three deliveries. Smith kept the game alive by muscling a six off the fourth ball several rows over long-on. The equation was eight off two balls and Hilfenhaus failed to land both in the blockhole. A low full toss was bashed over the bowler’s head, giving long-off and long-on no chance. Hilfenhaus managed to pitch the final ball, but not at the desired length. Smith smashed it to long-off and before he knew it he was being mobbed by deliriously happy team-mates.
The game was Mumbai Indians’ to lose after the hard work from Tendulkar and Rohit. Following Tendulkar’s dismissal, they needed only 38 off 24 balls with eight wickets in hand. Dinesh Karthik forced two boundaries through the off side to tilt the balance further in their favour, but got a little too cheeky immediately after, walking across his stumps to Dwayne Bravo and getting bowled.
MS Dhoni then sprung a surprise, bringing in the normally under-utilised Ravindra Jadeja. Ambati Rayudu slogged and missed; the well-set Rohit made too much room and he too was bowled. Jadeja picked up two wickets in a two-run over and Super Kings were in a position where the game was theirs to lose.
The following over by Bravo had a tight wide call, which gave Mumbai Indians a crucial extra delivery in the final analysis. Robin Peterson then took off for a quick single towards mid-off, but Faf du Plessis showed his brilliance for the second time in the evening with a direct hit with just a stump to aim at. Another six from Smith, hit with tremendous bat speed – and Harbhajan Singh’s slog down long-on’s throat added further twists. Smith, however, had the final, emphatic say.
It should not have got this close. Tendulkar lost his opening partner James Franklin cheaply, but the early wicket was
good for Mumbai Indians as it brought in Rohit early. The pair kept the chase on course with a stand of 126. Tendulkar targeted Albie Morkel as the weak link in the attack, ransacking 33 off 17 balls. With the mid-off in the circle in the 11th over, Tendulkar made room but failed to put away the first two balls. He scooped the third over extra cover, walked across the crease to launch the fourth over fine leg for six, before spanking the sixth over cover to bring up his fifty.
Rohit was at his elegant best at the other end after being let off at third man by R Ashwin. A short-arm pull for six off Hilfenhaus got him going early in his innings. When Bravo offered width, he slapped them past point for boundaries. By the 15th over, which cost 15, a deflated Super Kings were waiting for the fatal mistake.
It came via a chipped shot from Tendulkar against Ashwin. The ball appeared to clear du Plessis at cover, but he plucked it one-handed over his head, lost balance, tumbled and still held on. There was an element of doubt as to whether du Plessis was in full control as the ball appeared to touch the grass as he gathered himself up. Tendulkar did not challenge the fielder and trudged off for 74. It was the start of the twist that had the most enthralling climax.
Super Kings had earlier progressed to 173 with steady contributions from the top order. The openers added 47, Suresh Raina and Bravo put together 62 for the third wicket, before Dhoni and Bravo added a frenetic stand of 44 in just under four overs. Two wickets by Malinga in the final over prevented Super Kings from getting to 180, and it was just enough for Mumbai to keep their No. 3 position.
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