Before the match began, one knew Gujarat Titans were within touching distance of the playoffs and Mumbai Indians had little chance. MI’s 5-run win did not alter that reality by much, but it was also a match that saw a couple of big players regain rhythm. Indian cricket fans would be breathing easy watching captain Rohit Sharma’s fluent innings of 43 (28b, 5×4, 2×6). On the other side, for Titans, spin ace Rashid Khan clocked exemplary figures again of 4-0-24-2.
Halfway into Gujarat Titans’ chase of 178, openers Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill were coasting along having brought up their respective fifties and the team was scoring at 10 runs per over. But the twist came in the 13th over bowled by leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin, who got both the openers out caught in the deep. Given that Titans had been pulling off chases from impossible positions, this was expected to be a walk in the park for them. It turned out to be one of those occasions where they fell short, running out of luck too, Sai Sudharsan (14) getting out hit-wicket and Hardik Pandya (24) run out by the barest of margins.
In the final over, Daniel Sams had only 8 runs to defend and he had Rahul Tewatia and David Miller to contend with. But Tewatia fell inches short of the crease in a lazy attempt to steal an extra run. The five-time champions powered by a lively crowd found a way to get the table-toppers to choke as Miller failed to get the required six of the final ball.
An excitable, animated home crowd had assembled at the Brabourne stadium. In the second over of the day, Alzzarri Joseph ran in with a slip and Sharma responded by lofting him over extra cover for a four. The India skipper got the crowd – actor Ranveer Singh was also in attendance – going by pulling Joseph for a six and followed it up with an audacious ramp for another six over fine-leg off Mohammed Shami. He also deposited a 150 kmph Lockie Ferguson thunderbolt to the boundary. By the time Titans spread the field, MI’s skipper had raced to 42 off 24 balls while Mumbai had reached 57/0, their best powerplay showing.
Despite all those eye-catching strokes, in trying to keep the momentum going, Sharma attempted a reverse sweep against Rashid Khan and perished. Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma kept the scoring rate up, but brakes were applied when Pollard arrived. Pollard came out to bat after the 12th over but could manage only 8 runs in 17 balls, and had to go back after being cleaned up by Rashid for a 14-ball 4. Between overs 11-15, MI managed only 15 runs, which became the difference between 200 and the total of 177 that they eventually managed.
The final flourish came from Tim David, who smashed 4 fours and 2 sixes in his 44* (21b), hitting hard and targeting the straight boundaries.