Down in the dumps for the better part of the league phase, Mumbai Indians made amends, when it mattered most. Delirious fans at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium watched unbelievable action and its culmination into a magical victory, despite the gigantic task, that the home team faced at the start of the chase. Since Rajasthan Royals already had 14 points against Mumbai’s 12, just a victory was not enough for MI. Instead, they had a dual task of not only winning the game but winning it in such a way that their Net-Run-Rate became superior to RR. In the end, the contest turned out to be so thrilling that even when MI drew level in 14.3 overs, Ambati Rayudu succumbed to the ground on folded knees in utter dejection, thinking his team had lost. But a technicality of counting the NRR, based on the final score and not the target, allowed MI to get away with a thrilling victory, made possible by Aditya Tare’s six from the only ball he faced.
Mumbai had chosen to field after winning the toss with the hope of restricting RR to a moderate total. Until the halfway mark in the RR innings, Rohit Sharma’s ploy made great sense as MI bowlers restricted RR to 59/1 in 10 overs. But between 11th and 15th overs, Karun Nair and Sanju Samson went on a rampage. Beginning with 19 runs off the 11th over, the youthful duo began vying with each other in belting the Mumbai bowlers. They took the score to 134/2 at the end of over no. 15 but off the last ball, Karun Nair got out. Samson too perished in the 16th over but Faulkner and Hodge together, added 49 runs and RR finished with a very healthy 189/4. A target of 190 in any T20 game is daunting but for Mumbai Indians, it was even more monumental since they needed to win in 14.3 overs. Based on their batting performance in IPL 2014, 13.1 runs per over was too stiff a rate for MI and even the staunchest MI fan would not have given them any chance. For Rajasthan, the situation was pretty cozy since they could afford to lose, provided Mumbai was denied victory in 87 balls.
Despite the difficult target, MI had an explosive beginning with both Simmons and Hussey going for big shots straightaway. After hitting Faulkner for three fours in the first over, Simmons fell to Dhawal Kulkarni in the second over. Hussey and Anderson, however, continued to attack the RR bowling, adding 34 in 14 balls, before Hussey was bowled by Kevon Cooper. Much to Mumbai’s disappointment Kieron Pollard fell cheaply but Rohit Sharma came to join Anderson, who was already in full cry. These two added 47 runs, before Sharma was out with the score reading 108/4 in 58 balls. Now Mumbai needed 82 runs for play-off qualification in just 29 balls at an over-rate of almost 17. Rayudu joined Anderson and matched the awesome New-Zealander, stroke for stroke. Watson called Faulkner for the 11th over in attempt to slow down MI but a flurry of Anderson’s stroke produced 19. Then Watson came himself for the 12th and it was Rayudu this time, who did the bulk of scoring and took 18 from Watson. With just 33 required off 15 balls, MI began seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Then Cooper’s 13th over went for 13 runs and 20 off 9 looked quite comfortable. Just as the rocking Mumbai crowd went jubilant, Tambe gave away only 11 in his next over. There was a hush in the stands as Faulkner came for the 15th over with Mumbai needing 9 from Faulkner’s first three balls. Anderson could only manage a single and when Rayudu faced Faulkner’s second ball, MI required 8 from 2 balls. Rayudu didn’t disappoint as he slogged Faulkner’s leg-side full toss into the crowd. With 2 runs required from 1 ball, Rayudu and Anderson went for an impossible two and Rayudu was run out with the score tied. For a while no one knew the fate of the match but it soon transpired that Mumbai could still qualify if they scored a boundary off the next ball. Anything less would fall short of the NRR despite Mumbai’s victory. Aditya Tare had come out to face Faulkner’s all-important ball. While breathing stopped in the stands, Tare lofted Faulkner over the square leg. Even as the ball was still sailing over the ropes, Tare began running like a footballer with his shirt raised over his head. Anderson chased him madly and then the entire Mumbai contingent ran to the field. Sachin Tendulkar hugged Anderson and Tare and then one saw MI owner Nita Ambani rushing to the ground in ecstatic delight. Overcome by joyful emotions, Ms. Ambani also hugged most of her team members. In the RR dug-out, however, Rahul Dravid threw his cap away in utter frustration and other members sat with ashen faces. This was the one match, where RR held all the aces but they still lost to the brave hearts from Mumbai.