Mumbai Indians fresh from a confident victory over the tough KKR took on the newbies Gujarat Lions. Lions having won both their matches have looked very strong and it was surely a match to wait for.
To be precise, it was the first real match of IPL. In all the 8 matches played before this one, largely they have been one sided affairs with no real contest. But this was the match that has set the tone for the IPL now on.
Decided on the last ball of the match, it was anyone’s game but Gujarat Lions came out victorious holding their nerve for their 3rd straight win in as many matches.
Gujarat Lions won the toss and sent Mumbai in to bat on slow Wankhede wicket. Rohit Sharma and Parthiv Patel opened for Mumbai. Rohit Sharma, the star of their previous match was the first to go in the 2nd over with 7 on the board. Hardik Pandya, coming again at number 3, gave no such result and walked back after scoring a painful 2 runs off 6 balls. Both wickets going to Dhawal Kulkarni. Next Batsman, Jos Buttler joined Parthiv to try and resurrect the innings but his over aggressive intent had him stumped for 16 runs off the bowling of Shadab Jakati. Mumbai were reduced to 51 for 3 and then 59 for 4 as big hitting Pollard was caught at long off by Dwayne Bravo for just 1 run off the first ball bowled by leggie Praveen Tambe.Wickets fell at regular intervals and Mumbai kept sinking further down. Numbers 8 and 9 of MI’s batting order, Krunal Pandya and Tim Southee came to the rescue and smashed some very vital runs for Mumbai to push them to a fighting 143 for 8 in 20 overs.
The late surge gave Mumbai Indians some momentum and a lot of confidence to come out a try to restrict a strong Gujarat Lions batting lineup.
They started well with the wicket of explosive Brendon McCullum upfront. Mumbai bowled and fielded with a lot of spirit and it showed. Finch was scoring a good pace and Raina gave him support for some time with a 53 run stand and then walked back caught behind off McClenaghan for 27. No other batsman got set and Lions kept losing wickets at regular intervals, with Aaron Finch playing the lone hand. The equation came down to 13 required off the last 2 overs with 5 wickets in hand and Faulkner giving support to Finch. MI’s McClenaghan bowled a brilliant 19th over giving away just 2 runs and picking 2 crucial wickets with Finch stranded at the other end.
McClenaghan was the star for Mumbai with ball with figures of 4 wickets for 21 runs off 4 overs.
Lions needed 11 to win off the last over. Finch was struggling with a hamstring problem and the onus was on him to finish the match for lions and he did not disappoint. Dhawal Kulkarni ably supported him with a crucial hit to the boundary in the last over. Finch ran a couple of the second last delivery to tie the scores and then hitting the last ball for 4 to the excitement of all the Gujarat Lions Squad. He finished with an unbeaten 67 off 54 balls.
Two strong teams always are expected to fight in this manner. Not giving an inch to the opponents. This match will probably push the IPL into a more competitive phase from the initial one sided matches.