Jasprit Bumrah, him of the large heart, did not deserve to end up on the losing side. Almost single-handedly, he helped Mumbai Indians (MI) avert panic during their defence of the 150-run target against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final on Sunday night. Yet, he needed Lasith Malinga to bowl a good final over and help the team secure a nail-biting one-run victory.
Having conceded four byes off his final delivery, Bumrah moved to his place in the deep with only hope in his heart that Malinga would stop Shane Watson from taking CSK over the line. Malinga, who had been expensive in the first three overs, defended the nine runs as Watson was run out and Shardul Thakur fell leg before to a slow yorker off the final delivery.
Not many in the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium at Hyderabad would have been even on the edge of their respective seats as they would have been on their feet as after a long consultation, Malinga produced the slow yorker to outfox Thakur into playing early and be trapped in front of the wicket. But it was Bumrah's calm presence that put the team in a position of strength.
Come to think of it, Bumrah would have been itching to get to work with the new ball on a track that offered some encouragement to a quick bowler prepared to bend his back. He had seen CSK's Thakur operate with a good measure of success, using the bouncer to good effect.
Yet, Bumrah had to be patient and wait until the second half of the CSK's innings to make an impact. He did stamp his presence on the game, first by claiming Ambati Rayudu with an express bouncer, by coming up with a four-run 17th over to Watson and Dwayne Bravo in which the Australian was dropped and finally by dismissing Bravo in the 19th.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell McClenaghan bowled four overs for 24 runs and played his part in the low-scoring match while leg-spinner Rahul Chahar's figures of one for 14 in four overs were worth their weight in gold. The young leg-spinner bowled at a crucial stage to stop CSK from running away with a successful chase.
Rahul's role in choking CSK's batting can never be undermined but it really was the humble Bumrah who was the standout performer, infusing belief in the team with his splendid craft.
After all, Faf du Plessis had set the tone with a brisk start and Watson was carrying Chennai on his shoulders, even after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was run out trying to go for a second run off an over-throw. Ishan Kishan's direct hit at the non-striker's end produced a magical moment on the field for Mumbai who dropped quite a few chances on Sunday.
In holding back Bumrah for the second half of the CSK's innings, skipper Rohit Sharma did not use his ability to generate extra bounce until after the halfway mark had been reached. Bumrah scalped Rayudu with a superb bouncer and raised some doubts about MI's strategy.
The decision to bowl Hardik Pandya for just one over added to that, especially when his brother and left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya was entrusted with the 18th over and conceded 20 runs to let CSK believe that they could overcome the sluggish rate of scoring by those coming in to bat after the openers.
But it ended well for the team. For it was all about faith. In backing the vastly experienced Malinga to bowl the final over to Watson and Ravindra Jadeja, MI were showing plenty of that in the bowler who found it hard to control his line and length in his first three overs and had dropped a catch to be possibly low on confidence.
Indeed, faith can move mountains. As had been shown during MI's innings by Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who backed Deepak Chahar and Thakur to deliver the goods. It really was about Dhoni's faith in his faster bowlers and their executing the skills admirably.
On a pitch that offered some swing, the CSK captain employed Harbhajan Singh's off-spin in powerplay only to help Thakur and Deepak change ends after Quinton de Kock smashed three sixes in Deepak's second over. That move paid rich dividends as Thakur's pacy bouncer capitalised on de Kock's adrenaline rush and set up a lobbed catch.
And there was a bonus as Deepak found the outside edge of Rohit's swishing blade for Dhoni to take another catch in the next over. MI wouldn't have reached a defendable total had it not been for a cameo by Kieron Pollard, who scored an unbeaten 41 off 25 deliveries, including two cover-driven fours off the final two deliveries from Bravo's eventful last over.
On an intense and competitive night when neither team deserved to go home with the runners-up trophy, Mumbai Indians deserved to take the winners' crown for the fourth time in seven years only for the never-say-die efforts that Bumrah and Rahul conjured in defending a none-too-high score.
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