IPL 2017 final: When Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma dialled M for match-winners | ipl 2017 | Hindustan Times
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IPL 2017 final: When Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma dialled M for match-winners

Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma had to fall back upon the experienced hands of Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga to bring him the win in the IPL 2017 final against Rising Pune Supergiant.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 22, 2017 18:13 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma (R) was ecstatic after they defeated Rising Pune Supergiant in the IPL 2017 final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma (R) was ecstatic after they defeated Rising Pune Supergiant in the IPL 2017 final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday.(AFP)

They say T20 is a young man’s game and they may be right. But when it comes to winning championships, some go by their gut feel and pitch for experience. Such as Rohit Sharma who dialled M for match-winners and up-stepped Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson ---- whose combined age is 68 ---- to bowl the death overs and deliver a third IPL title for Mumbai Indians here on Sunday.

“It was always going to be a gamble between Malinga and Johnson to bowl that last over,” said Rohit after Mumbai Indians (MI) won IPL 2017 by one run off the last ball.

“Malinga has played quite a few games and was in that rhythm so I thought better to go with him. Johnson, we knew his slower ball and off-cutters, taking the ball away from right-handers, would make him difficult especially if he had to be hit against the wind. It paid off.”

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Defending a paltry score of 129 with 11 needed off the last over and Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) having seven wickets, Johnson, whose arms still look like they have been sawn off tree trunks, conceded nine after Manoj Tiwary had hit a four off the first ball.

He fought back by dismissing Tiwary and RPS skipper Steve Smith off the next there balls and deflated the chase just when a maiden IPL title looked to be around the corner.

Johnson’s been a super sub for MI this term, stepping in for the injured Mitchell McClenaghan.

“We always knew we had a great back up in Johnson who is a proven customer. He has done it again and again for Australia and MI as well,” said Rohit.

When Johnson came on to bowl the last over, Smith was set and had just completed a patient half-century. With Smith was Dan Christian, who has played Johnson a number of times. It was the Johnson-Rohit joint-venture’s decision to kill pace that did the trick.

READ | Mumbai Indians beat Rising Pune Supergiant, become 3-time champions with IPL 2017 win

‘Kill the pace’

“He (Smith) was trying to use the pace of the bowler. We decided rather not give him pace. He had to hit against the wind. Johnson bowled almost a yorker and Smith sliced it. (Ambati) Rayudu was not expecting the catch but to take it under pressure was brilliant,” said Rohit.

Seven off five balls became seven off three and MI began to sense they had a chance to beat RPS for the first time in four attempts this term. With six needed off the last two balls, Johnson bowled full and didn’t allow Christian to free his arms.

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Malinga bowled the 18th over and conceded seven and had given only six in the 15th. It helped MI stay in the game till the end, just what Rohit wanted.

“This year, Malinga has probably not found his way so much, but when we needed him, he delivered. That’s what experience does. We need our big players for big games,” said Rohit.

RPS had needed two big overs at the backend and though they managed 12 off the 19th, these two ageing warriors summoned all the guile gleaned from years of international cricket to ensure that didn’t happen.