Mitchell Johnson - Mumbai Indians’ go-to man in IPL glory
Rising Pune Supergiant needed 11 off the last 6 balls when Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma brought in Mitchell Johnson to bowl the last over. The Australian delivered, leading his team to the IPL 2017 title.Updated: May 22, 2017 17:37 IST
Mitchell Johnson, at 35, displayed his match-winning abilities as his brilliant last over helped Mumbai Indians clinch the IPL title for the third time after beating Rising Pune Supergiant by one run.
Rising Pune Supergiant needed 11 off the last over to secure their maiden IPL title in the final against Mumbai Indians in Hyderabad. Steve Smith had scored a fifty. There had seven wickets in hand. It looked like game over for Rohit Sharma.
In stepped Mitchell Johnson. In three overs before, he had conceded 18 runs but took the vital wicket of Ajinkya Rahane for 44. He had to save 11 runs in the final over. It started badly as Manoj Tiwary slammed a boundary off the first ball. 7 needed off 5.
In the next two balls, Johnson changed the match when he dismissed Tiwary and Smith. With both set batsmen gone, Rising Pune Supergiant needed four off the last ball. Dan Christian could only squeeze couple off a yorker. In attempting an impossible third, he was run-out.
Mumbai Indians had secured a one-run win. They had broken their jinx against Rising Pune Supergiant and became the first team to win the IPL three times. In the space of five balls, Johnson reaffirmed his special bond with Mumbai Indians.
Johnson: In a new rejuvenated form
In 2012-13, Johnson was at the crossroads of his career. Following a serious toe injury, the left-arm pacer considered quitting the game. However, he was snapped up by Mumbai Indians in the 2013 IPL auction. That move turned out to be the rebirth for the Australian.
In the tournament, Johnson was a different bowler. He bowled with pace, accuracy, got late swing and was consistent. His 24 wickets in 17 games at an economy rate of 7.17 helped Mumbai Indians secure their first IPL title when they defeated two-time champions Chennai Super Kings.
His performances in the IPL went a long way in the making of Johnson 2.0, deadlier and accurate. In the Ashes, he picked up 37 wickets in five Tests to help Australia whitewash England. He followed up with 22 scalps in three Tests against South Africa. The stint in IPL 2013 had rejuvenated Johnson.
2017: Match-winning duties continue
Before IPL 2017, Johnson, who had retired from international cricket in 2015, was in fine form in the Big Bash League where he finished with 13 wickets at an economy rate of 5.91.
In the whole tournament, Johnson bowled with hostility and sustained accuracy consistently. One notable spell was against Melbourne Stars at the WACA in which he finished with astonishing figures of 4-2-3-3. The spell included 21 dot balls.
In the IPL 2017 auction, he was again picked by Mumbai Indians. He got an opportunity when Mitchell McClenaghan was injured. The left-armer came into his own in the second qualifier against Kolkata Knight Riders where he ended with 2/28. On a sluggish wicket, Johnson’s hostility and pace made all the difference and it was a curtain-raiser to his match-winning exploits in the final.
Speaking in the post-match press conference after the win, Rohit Sharma summed up the value of Johnson.
“I can happily rely on him when I need him the most. To have him throughout the season is fantastic. He’s been talking to younger bowlers, sharing his experience; all these things have helped our younger bowlers,” Rohit said.
His performance in the IPL 2017 final ensured that in the history of Mumbai Indians’ success story, Johnson’s name will have a special place.