Amit Mishra claimed his first four-wicket haul in the IPL for five years to take him within five wickets of becoming the leading wicket-taker in the tournament and inspiring Delhi’s first victory over Mumbai Indians in six matches.
The leg spinner, who has played in every edition of the tournament since first appearing in 2008 as a 25-year-old, took his wickets at a cost of 24 in his four overs, claiming the scalps of a quite notorious quartet in Rohit Sharma – for the seventh time – the power hitters Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard, and the exciting left-hander Ishan Kishan.
Delhi replied in a considered manner, keeping wickets in hand, and never allowing a run rate, which started at just under seven an over, to get out of sight. Yet Mumbai are such competitors – it’s why they have been champions for the past two years – that a Capitals victory never seemed a foregone conclusion.
Excellent bowling from Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult extended the game into a final over before they were consigned to defeat, Bumrah blotting his copybook by giving away two free hits in three balls. Lalit Yadav and Shimron Hetmeyer got them home by six wickets with five balls to spare.
A beaming Mishra said afterwards: “My style is to bowl the bowl in the air and get it to dip. I’ve been doing that for 14 years and I don’t want to change much. It’s always there, Rohit and Mumbai were match-winners for Mumbai Indians for the last 14 years. So, I always go for the wickets.”
Go for wickets he might, but it didn’t do him any good in his first over, as Rohit and Suriyakumar Yadav took ten runs from it. But in his second, he initiated a collapse from 76 for two to 87 for six, dismissing the Mumbai captain, who dragged a lofted drive to Steve Smith at long-on and Hardik, who incomprehensibly slapped his first delivery also to Smith, who seemed as surprised as anybody to see it travelling in his direction.
Keiron Pollard also went, lbw to an excellent googly that turned the best part of a foot and forced him right back on to his stumps and the off spin of Lalit accounted for Krunal Pandya.
Ishan and Jayant Yadav refused to panic and their initial approach suggested that posting anything above 130 would still give them a fighting chance – after all Mumbai have defended two low-ish totals in 150 and 152 on this ground already this year. But just as they were gaining impetus – Ishan crashed a flat, straight six off Ravi Ashwin’s final over – Mishra claimed his final wicket, a fortuitous one as the left-hander chopped a full ball into his back foot and watched in dismay as it looped up and landed on the leg bail.
That wicket was Mishra’s 166th in the IPL, putting him just four shy of Lasith Malinga’s record of 170, one that he should ease past if given sufficient opportunity this season.
Jayant Yadav, the off spinner who once scored a Test hundred from No 9 against England, has only bowled 44 overs in six years of IPL action, but has become something of a “Delhi specialist” – four of his last five games in the tournament have been played against them – and he was asked to open the bowling as Mumbai responded in kind by looking to take pace off the ball from the outset.
It was a move that paid off as, operating from round the wicket, he lured Prithvi Shaw into giving him a return catch. That was in the second over of the Delhi reply and from then on Shikhar Dhawan, prolific already this season, and Smith batted with the utmost intelligence. Smith in particular was a master at manoeuvring the ball around for ones and occasional twos, so unorthodox in his manner that it becomes difficult to set a field for him.
He had advanced to an untroubled 33 from 29 balls when Pollard, who had taken the helm with Rohit off with a niggle, brought himself on to bowl. He issued a warning to Shikhar for backing up too far – although he didn’t seem to be doing so – before he produced a shooting delivery that found Smith dead in front.
Job done, Pollard took himself off after his one over – the 11th of the innings – and rotated his bowlers, bringing Bumrah back for one, and allowing spinners Jayant, Krunal and Rahul Chahar to operate. But Shikhar and Lalit, whose promotion in the order to No 4 above Rishabh Pant seemed to hint at an untypically cautious approach from the captain, although he might equally have been thinking of him as a sacrificial lamb who might crash a few boundaries knowing that he has twice hit six sixes in an over in local cricket.
As it was it was Shikhar who pressed the accelerator, swinging Chahar for six to wide long-on and pulling him for four next ball as he over-adjusted and dropped short. But the natural attacking instincts he had largely been discarding got the better of him and with no real need he tried for another boundary and gave Krunal a catch at long leg.
Pant’s belated appearance brought Bumrah back into the attack and although the paceman kept him quiet for three balls, he couldn’t do it for a fourth as the left-hander swung him between deep mid-wicket and deep square leg for four. Bumrah, though, was shortly to have his revenge as he bowled a slower cutter and Pant got caught in a complete muddle trying to scoop it and top edged to long leg.
There were still 22 required from the final three overs, with Lalit, operating at only a run-a-ball, being joined by Hetmeyer. Despite a series of yorkers from Boult in his final over, the West Indies batsman did get one in the slot and smashed it over extra for four. Seven runs were gathered and Bumrah came back for the penultimate over – his last. But he overstepped with both his first and third balls and although the free hits were both caught on the boundary and only yielded singles and one two, the extra deliveries helped the batsmen acquire ten from the over.
Pollard had only himself to turn to – or the left-arm spin of Krunal – for the final over and he took the responsibility. His first ball to Hetmeyer from round the wicket offered far too much width and the left-hander gleefully cut it away to the backward point boundary to bring the scores level. The next was a waist-high full toss, the resulting no-ball bringing Delhi that long-awaited triumph.