After being asked to bat on a favourable chasing ground, Rising Pune Supergiant lost the majority of the first innings. But it was an atypically slow surface at the Wankhede Stadium and Rising Pune utilised those conditions better than Mumbai Indians did to clear a path to their maiden IPL final.
Rising Pune defended 162 comfortably in the end, by 20 runs, for their third win over Mumbai this season. Mumbai, despite having squandered the shootout for the final in front of a packed home crowd, will have a second chance in the second qualifier in Bengaluru on Friday.
At the forefront of a sublime bowling performance was teenage offspinner Washington Sundar. His fuller-than-good length and straight lines meant the batsmen were not able to attack either side of the wicket with any conviction. His quick pace didn’t let them get under deliveries either. The 17-year old finished with 3 for 16 from four overs and the Man-of-the-Match award.
The harder task on the night, though, was with the bat. Manoj Tiwary and Ajinkya Rahane struck patient fifties, setting a platform for MS Dhoni to use his wiles and hitting prowess at the end to help Rising Pune finish with a decent score and sufficient momentum.
A strong start
In Mumbai’s last league game at this venue, Kings XI Punjab defended a total of 230 by just seven runs. Even with the possibility of dew and the short boundaries, Rising Pune may not have been aiming that high after losing the toss, but they knew they needed to get close.
Planning, check. Execution, a big red cross. Rahul Tripathi fell over a flick and was bowled. Steven Smith’s leading edge was snaffled up at backward point. Rising Pune were 9 for 2 in two overs. The surface may have been slow, and Mumbai’s variations were effective, but after that start, a score of close to 170 was the best Rising Pune could hope for, which meant Mumbai were never out of the game.
Different pitch, same Dhoni finish
Rising Pune had laboured to 121 for 3 after 18 overs. The five overs prior to that yielded just 32 without a wicket as Mumbai’s bowlers found the right length to Dhoni and Tiwary. Dhoni’s strike rate in his first 10 balls in the IPL, before this game, was 88.52. Against Mumbai, he could only muster 14 off his first 17 balls.
But then Mitchell McClenaghan, not for the first time this season, missed his yorker. A high full-toss was hit for four and the resulting free-hit went for six over long-on. Dhoni anticipated McClenaghan’s good or short length in the second half of that over, and sat back to hit two sixes.
Jasprit Bumrah hadn’t pitched anything in Dhoni’s half all through the match. But in the final over, he gifted two good length balls that were smashed for sixes as Rising Pune plundered 41 off the last 12 balls. Their score of 162 was below par at this ground, but the momentum and confidence – of having defended a similar score before on this ground earlier this season – was firmly with Rising Pune.
Falling behind from the start
Rising Pune had only one way forward – exploiting a two-paced Wankhede surface. Even if they didn’t get early wickets, they had to keep Mumbai in check because batting was going to get harder. Jaydev Unadkat brought out his offcutters in the first over and conceded just one run. Mumbai were already behind the game.
Parthiv Patel hit 33 off 16 in the Powerplay, but Mumbai lost three wickets. Lendl Simmons was run-out, backing up too far at the non-striker’s end. Rohit Sharma was undone by umpiring error, given out lbw despite a thick inside edge. Ambati Rayudu found midwicket with a pull; the second wicket in Sundar’s over. Mumbai were 42 for 3 inside the fielding restrictions and behind the asking rate.
Undone by conditions
Timing shots and picking slower deliveries was getting tougher. Why? After a bowler releases his delivery, batsmen pick the speed through the air and then adjust accordingly. But with the ball gripping the surface, it came onto them slower than expected. Mumbai, having played seven league matches on an even, true Wankhede pitch, weren’t used to that pace. Unadkat used his slower balls, Shardul Thakur his knuckle balls and Sundar an effective change in pace, to thoroughly flummox Mumbai’s batsmen.
Rising Pune Supergiant cricketer Washington Sundar listens to Steven Smith (R) as Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks on during the first 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 Qualifier 1 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 16, 2017. —-IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE—– / AFP PHOTO / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / —-IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE—– / GETTYOUT