When it seemed like Mumbai Indians were cruising towards the target, Gujarat Lions stormed back into the game with their jaw-dropping effort on the field. A succession of direct hits from the likes of James Faulkner, Irfan Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja culminated in a nail biter at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot.
The incredible fielding performance from the hosts led to the first Super Over of the 2017 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Mumbai held their nerve to eke out a remarkable victory but not before enduring a stirring fight back from Gujarat. Here’s how the captivating set of events unfolded.
Faulkner’s moment of magic
Mumbai’s belligerent opening combination of Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler began to carve away at the target of 154 by taking the attack to the home team’s bowlers. The former unleashed a flurry of boundaries to keep Gujarat skipper Suresh Raina on his toes.
With the two batsmen forming a dangerous partnership at the top of the order, the hosts needed something special to obtain a breakthrough. Faulkner gave them exactly that by producing a splendid piece of fielding.
Leg-spinner Ankit Soni had helped his side pull things back to a certain extent by conceding just three runs from the first five balls of the fourth over. Upon seeing a short delivery outside the off-stump, Parthiv’s eyes lit up. However, his powerful cut short was not able to find the gap. Pulling out a hasty dive, Faulkner managed to stop the ball.
Even though he could not control the ball at the first instance, it only rolled within his reach. In sharp contrast to the oft-repeated adage of ‘never run off a misfield’, Parthiv called the non-striker for a single. Despite being off-balance, Faulkner somehow nailed the direct-hit and caught Buttler short of his crease.
Watch Faulkner’s amazing throw here
Irfan‘s impressive awareness
Even though Mumbai suffered a major collapse in the middle-overs, Parthiv‘s attacking fifty kept them in pursuit of the target. With only 15 runs required from 12 balls, the visitors were within arm’s reach of victory. They had only lost five wickets.
But, Basil Thampi’s penultimate over sparked a massive turnaround. After getting Hardik Pandya’s wicket off the first ball, the seamer went on to concede just three runs from the next three deliveries and trapped Harbhajan Singh in front.
Having witnessed the riveting action from the balcony, Mitchell McClenaghan strode into the pressure cauldron. He attempted a scoop shot which went in the direction of fine leg. Deciding to go for the catch, Irfan dived towards the ball but was not able to get to it.
Undeterred, he showed incredible awareness by swiftly picking the ball up and unfurling a rapid throw which cannoned onto the stumps. Returning for the double, McClenaghan could not make it to the crease in time.
Watch Irfan’s direct hit here
Sensational Jadeja sets up thrilling finale
Irfan was tasked with delivering the all important final over. He began in a woeful fashion by sending down a length delivery which Krunal Pandya duly dispatched to the stands. The next ball was also in the southpaw’s hitting arc but the batsman could only take a single off it.
As a result, Jasprit Bumrah found himself on strike. He defended a slower one and set off on a risky run. To his dismay, it was the athletic Jadeja at point. The left-armer swooped in and sent the ball flying towards the stumps before the tailender got to the other end.
With the next two balls yielding three runs, the equation reduced to one off one. When confronted by a fuller delivery on the pads, Lasith Malinga tried a flick shot but the leading edge ended up within Jadeja’s grasp. Showing his relentless accuracy, the all-rounder’s throw once again found the stumps and caught a diving Krunal short of his crease. The match was tied and a Super Over beckoned.
Watch Jadeja’s breathtaking fielding here
Even though Gujarat Lions were defeated by Bumrah’s master class in the Super Over, the spree of direct hits had resulted in a riveting clash and thus left an indelible mark on those watching the game.