It’s been a week since the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League began and the fans were still waiting for a last-ball finish. Their wish was fulfilled on Saturday night, with debutant Gujarat Lions edging out defending champion Mumbai Indians in a nail-biting encounter.
The architect of Lions’s third successive victory was opener Aaron Finch, whose unbeaten 67 was his third half-century on the trot. It was only fitting that with 11 runs required off the last over, Finch hit the winning runs off Jasprit Bumrah.
While Finch, struggling with cramps towards the end of the match, struck the all-important boundary — a pull shot that went just wide of Kieron Pollard at short midwicket — it was Dhawal Kulkarni’s lofted cover drive off the third ball of the over that tilted the balance in the visitors’ favour.
That wasn’t the only contribution Kulkarni, a former Mumbai Indians pacer, made at the Wankhede Stadium. The spearhead of Mumbai’s pace attack in domestic cricket combined with another Mumbaikar in the Lions’s jersey, leg-spinner Pravin Tambe, to restrict Mumbai Indians to 143 for eight.
Kulkarni justified captain Suresh Raina’s decision to insert Mumbai Indians, bowling an accurate three-over spell. He forced skipper Rohit Sharma to flick straight to Shadab Jakati at square-leg off the third ball he bowled on his Lions debut. In his next over, Kulkarni sent back Hardik Pandya whose mistimed pull was taken by Jakati at square-leg again.
Lions continued to retain control, with Mumbai Indians having trudged to 59 for three at the halfway stage. Raina then introduced Tambe into the attack and off the first ball, he enticed Pollard into playing a false stroke that was taken by fellow Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo at long-off. In his next over, Tambe ended the innings of a struggling Parthiv Patel who pulled straight to James Faulkner at deep midwicket.
That turned out to be the leggie’s last ball of the evening but he had left an impact in his two overs.
Brothers in same jersey
At 99 for seven in 17 overs, Mumbai Indians was in danger of not even crossing its mediocre total of 121 in the opening match of the season. However, Southee and Krunal Pandya, Hardik’s brother who was making his IPL debut, ensured that Mumbai had a decent total to defend, adding 42 off just 18 balls. The left-handed Krunal did make an impact despite batting at No. 8.
Krunal’s debut meant that for the first time in the IPL two brothers featured in the same team.
The McCullum (Brendon and Nathan), Pathan (Irfan and Yusuf) and Marsh (Shaun and Mitchell) brothers have played in the same match, but not in the same jersey.
MI 143/8 (20.0 Ovs)
GL 147/7 (20.0 Ovs)
Gujarat Lions won by 3 wkts
PLAYER OF THE MATCH :- Aaron Finch