"Take a single and give me the strike, I shall do the rest," is what Mumbai Indians allrounder Dwayne Smith said he told RP Singh when 15 runs were needed off the last four balls against Chennai Super Kings. Smith, who was playing his first match of the season, backed himself to score 14 off the final three deliveries, and he did.
Chasing 174, Mumbai Indians were ahead for most of the innings, with Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma putting on a 126-run stand. Following Tendulkar's dismissal for 74, they needed 40 off 25 balls with eight wickets in hand. Mumbai Indians then lost five wickets for 24, leaving Smith and Lasith Malinga to score 16 off the final over, from Ben Hilfenhaus.
Smith managed just a single off Hilfenhaus' first ball, and then watched Malinga get bowled by a yorker. RP Singh pushed the third ball to cover, and gave Smith what he wanted, the strike. "I just backed myself. I know as long as I can watch the ball I can do it," Smith said. "I told him to give me the three balls that were left as I knew I could do it from there."
Having been ignored at the 2012 player auction, Smith was signed by Mumbai Indians as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Johnson and only joined the squad on May 3. "I actually thought I was going to be here with one of the teams from the beginning, but that didn't happen," he said. "But I am happy to be here now and win some games for Mumbai. I remember winning a game for Barbados in similar fashion. It went into the super over. I got two sixes off the last two balls."
Smith clubbing the last three balls for six and two fours to the straight boundary kept Mumbai Indians at No. 3 in the points table and prevented Chennai Super Kings from progressing from No. 4.
The Super Kings coach, Stephen Fleming, said that his team were "favourites going into that last over". "It was an amazing game of cricket, [we have] mixed emotions really," Fleming said. "There was phenomenal see-sawing throughout the day. Through their batting innings we were down and out but we fought back with some great fielding."
The challenge, according to Fleming, would be to lift the players' spirits after such a defeat and get them ready for the final quarter of their league campaign. "We must win three from four games, we played pretty well today and if I get the same performance from my players for the next four games then I think we'll go close," he said. "It's a flat dressing room now but that's the challenge, we have a few days off which is good. We're still in the competition and won't give up."