umbai Indians are Indian Premier League champions for the fifth time, extending their own record, and the first team to successfully defend the title since their great rivals Chennai Super Kings in 2011.
They secured the title by seeing off Delhi Capitals for the fourth time this season, this time by five wickets, with eight balls to spare. It was Rohit Sharma, captain for all five of those titles, who helped them to victory with an innings of calculated aggression which meant that this was a far simpler victory than their previous two final wins – which were both by a single run. Sharma fell for 68 off 51 balls in a cluster of late wickets, but by then, the job was done.
This year, Mumbai have been head and shoulders above an otherwise well-matched field, dominating the pool stage, then comfortably seeing off Delhi twice in a week to secure the title. They are a well-oiled machine and incredibly consistent in an unpredictable format.
So little was required from the all-rounders Hardik Pandya (did not bowl, and made three, dismissed with the scores level) and Keiron Pollard (one over bowled, and nine off four balls). because the top order batsmen and frontline bowlers were in such fine form.
That bowling unit were in action first. Delhi chose to bat first and their innings had three distinct phases. Mumbai flew out the blocks, Delhi fought back, before excellent death bowling limited the target to just 157.
In the first four overs, Delhi were 25 for three. In the last five overs, they were 38 for four. In the intervening 11 overs, they rebuilt with a stand of 96 between Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer, their only batsmen to pass 15.
Mumbai made the dream start when Trent Boult had Marcus Stoinis – who had been instrumental in Delhi’s qualifier win over Sunrisers Hyderabad – caught behind off the very first ball. In his next over, Boult dismissed Ajinkya Rahane, his 24th wicket of the tournament and 16th in the powerplay. Delhi were 16 for two and the groin injury Boult brought into the game seemed a distant memory.
Another man whose place in the side was no guarantee, Jayant Yadav, got in on the act in the fourth over. The off-spinner was brought in to bowl at Delhi’s left-handers and, tossing the ball up, took the prized wicket of Shikhar Dhawan, bowled trying to sweep.
It was some moment, then, for Indian starlet Pant to find form. He led the fightback in a partnership of 96 with captain Iyer. Pant got himself ticking with two sixes off Krunal Pandya and soon reached his first fifty of the campaign, only to fall to Nathan Coulter-Nile a couple of balls later, just as he looked set to launch Delhi to a more competitive total.
Boult returned to dismiss Shimron Hetmyer, then Coulter-Nile’s final over accounted for Axar Patel. Iyer clubbed his second six to finish 65 not out, but the late stumble left Delhi looking light.
Mumbai were always ahead of the rate. Rohit launched R.Ashwin for six in the opening over of the chase, then Quinton de Kock dived into the first from his international team-mate Kagiso Rabada (the tournament’s leading wicket-taker), which went for 18. De Kock fell to Stoinis’s first ball, but the brilliant Suryakumar Yadav kept up the charge, sending his first ball for four, then six.
Rohit smashed Praveen Dubey for successive sixes to end a quiet period, before a horrible mix-up saw Yadav sacrifice his wicket. Rohit was furious with himself for running Yadav out, but he cracked on, passing fifty in the following over, with back-to-back boundaries.
With 20 required, Rohit was brilliantly caught in the deep by sub Lalit Yadav off Anrich Nortje. Pollard and Hardik Pandya did not last long, but never mind, Ishan Kishan – Mumbai’s leading runscorer this season – and Krunal Pandya were on hand to help Mumbai over the line.