It was not as if a match decision off the last ball had come for the first time. Limited-over format of cricket is replete with results of the game coming off the last over and last ball. Remember Javed Miandad? Pakistan required 4 off the last ball in the final of the 1986 AustralAsia Cup at Sharjah and Miandad swung Chetan Sharma’s leg-side full toss out of the ground to win the match for Pakistan. That was 30 years ago but Miandad’s last-ball act is still fresh in cricketing memories. The 20-20 format came much later but countless decisions have come from the last over in the shorter format as well. Not too long ago, Carlos Brathwaite hit 4 sixes off the first 4 balls to win the 2016 ICC T20 World Cup for the West Indies. However, the last-ball results in IPL matches played at Bengaluru and Vishakhapatnam on May 9 & 10 were a trifle different. In both instances, the victories were scored by teams defending the scores rather than in a target-chase. On Monday, Kings XI Punjab couldn’t get 4 runs required off the last ball and on Tuesday, MS Dhoni’s dismissal off the penultimate ball made Rising Pune Supergiants needing 5 off the last delivery. The bowling sides won on both occasions.
Adam Zampa was a wretched man at the end of the match on Tuesday. He was the one, who had applied brakes on Sunrisers Hyderabad with second best bowling figures of 6 for 19 in IPL’s history after Sohail Tanvir’s 6/14 for Rajasthan Royals in May 2008. Zampa had also to face the last ball with 5 required but fell as the third casualty of Nehra’s 20th over as Sunrisers walked off with a 4-run victory. The match between Sunrisers and Supergiants was unique in many ways. It has been pretty rare this season that a team winning the toss would elect to bat first. David Warner did just that and caused raised eyebrows even from MS Dhoni, who would have chosen to field anyway. It was a tough grind for SRH and they had only two meaningful stands; 46 for the second wicket and 32 for the third. Except Thisara Perera and Rajat Bhatia, every other RPS bowler produced restricted spells with Adam Zampa leading the pack with 6 wickets. Shikhar Dhawan was the top scorer with 33, Kane Williamson labored to a 37-ball 32 while Yuvraj Singh made 23. Zampa spun a web and most batsmen found it difficult to negotiate his deliveries. On the face of it, the final score of 137/8 didn’t look defendable.
Supergiants began disastrously with a Bhuvneshwar Kumar outswinger finding Ajinkya Rahane’s bat. For the second match in a row, Usman Khwaja got run out but in a smart move, Dhoni promoted George Bailey and Ravichandran Ashwin ahead of himself. These two put on 49 for the third wicket but scoring rate was still low. After 5 wickets had fallen for 86 by 15th over, Dhoni and Perera took the gauntlet and reached a stage, where they needed 22 from 12 balls. It was still anybody’s game in the low-scoring contest. However, the batsmen found difficult to score off Mustafizur Rahman and the 19th over yielded only 8 runs. But making 14 from last 6 balls was still doable. Warner called Ashish Nehra for the final over and the batsmen wasted the first two balls by running singles. 12 off the last 4 became even tighter for RPS with Perera holing out to extra-cover. But Dhoni hoisted Nehra for a six and made it 6 off the last 2 . Just when everyone expected another six, Dhoni ran himself out in trying to attempt a second run with Yuvraj running faster to flip off the bails. Poor Zampa, who replaced Dhoni was caught behind off the last ball as SRH emerged victorious by 4 runs.
Earlier on Monday at Mohali, Royal Challengers Bangalore put on 175/6 helped by 42 from Lokesh Rahul, 64 by AB de Villiers and 33 by Sachin Baby. Kings XI Punjab went for the 176-run chase with skipper Murali Vijay playing a stellar role. At the end of 16 overs, KXIP required 40 off 24 balls with Vijay still there. But Shane Watson’s 17th over derailed KXIP since the Australian not only yielded just 3 but also claimed Vijay. However, Farhaan Behardien and Marcus Stoinis still managed to go along and brought Punjab to 152/4 in 18 overs. However, Watson bowled another tight over and KXIP needed 17 from the last over from Chris Jordan, who had yielded 37 from his first 3. After Behardien scored a single off the first ball, Stoinis scored a four off the second and a six off the third. Now just 6 were needed from 3 balls. But Jordan bowled a dot ball and gave away just 2 off the fifth. Now Punjab needed 4 from the last ball. Stoinis went for a heave but couldn’t collect more than 2 and RCB won the thriller by a solitary run.