Super Over settles super contest after improbable chase

September 29, 2020

CricketIndian Premier League


Thirty-four years ago, Javed Miandad hit a last-ball six off Chetan Sharma to pull off a heist in Sharjah. On Monday in Dubai, Kieron Pollard hammered a last-ball four against Isuru Udana to take the match to a Super Over, as Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore contested the most exciting match of the 2020 IPL yet.

Navdeep Saini’s brilliance restricted Mumbai to just seven runs in the Super Over. Royal Challengers Bangalore knocked it off on the final delivery of the match.

Kishan, the tragic hero
In the first two matches, Kishan wasn’t the first choice for Mumbai. The 22-year-old Jharkhand boy played this game because his statemate Saurabh Tiwary was injured. The ‘super-sub’, assisted by Pollard, played an innings of such aplomb that he could now be one of the first names on the team sheet going ahead in this IPL. Chasing 202 for victory, Mumbai Indians lost wickets at regular intervals until Kishan and Pollard added 119 runs for the fifth wicket in just 51 balls. They almost snatched an improbable win from the jaws of defeat. The team management must have reasons for not sending the youngster to bat in the Super Over. But Kishan’s 58-ball 99, with two fours and nine sixes, was the innings of the night. The way he set up his innings and then upped the ante spoke volumes for the talent on offer in Indian cricket. In the end, however, Kishan returned a tragic hero.

The required run rate had reached 20. Mumbai needed 80 runs to win in the last four overs. Pollard drove the first ball of the 17th over past Adam Zampa’s face for a four. The big man mistimed the next delivery, but substitute Pawan Negi, who had been catching everything until then, dropped the skier at deep cover and conceded a six. Two more sixes were hit in the next three balls, including a miscued pull over deep mid-wicket. Another dropped catch off the final delivery of the over made matters worse for Bangalore.

The required run rate came down to a little over 17 runs per over. Virat Kohli duly brought in Yuzvendra Chahal, his most trusted wicket-taker in crunch situations. Bangalore needed to break the partnership. Pollard, though, welcomed the leggie with a six over long-on. The excellent Kishan clobbered Chahal over the deep mid-wicket boundary. Pollard then flat-batted another maximum to reach a 20-ball half-century. With two overs to go, Mumbai’s required rate had come down to less than 16. A fantastic penultimate over from Saini put the pressure back on the four-time champions but Kishana and Pollard managed to level the score in the final over bowled by Udana.

AB shines brightest
AB de Villiers’ last match before this IPL was nine months ago, when he turned up for Brisbane Heat against Melbourne Renegades in last season’s Big Bash League. Such a lull for a 36-year-old, retired from international cricket, would be too big a gap to bridge. Very little outdoor training in the lead-up to the IPL has made even Kohli a tad rusty. But AB is defying age and the Covid-induced preparation void. To paraphrase Neville Cardus, his genius honours cricket.

AB’s 55 not out off 24 balls was the game-changer for Bangalore. When Kohli got out in the 13th over, playing away from his body to a Rahul Chahar delivery and chipping a simple catch to Rohit Sharma at extra cover, Bangalore were 92/2. Despite a good opening partnership, Mumbai had managed to pull the run rate back to below eight runs per over. Given the dew factor towards the latter half of the game and Mumbai’s batting strength, anything less than 190 would have put Bangalore under serious pressure. AB’s batting explosion, aided by an 81-run opening partnership between Aaron Finch and Devdutt Padikkal – both struck half centuries – and Shivam Dube’s late charge, helped Bangalore get past 200.

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