All star of the match

Krunal's bolt from the blue

With his more established team-mates falling to Rising Pune Supergiant's traps, it was up to a man playing his first IPL final to take control of it

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu

Star turn

This tournament was the game changer for his little brother in 2015, leading him to an India debut. Two years later it was big brother's time. Krunal Pandya, in the grandest stage the IPL offers, played the match-turning hand even as his more established team-mates leapt into the traps set for them.
Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel fell in the third over. Rohit Sharma found deep midwicket off a short ball. Kieron Pollard launched a catch to a very straight long-on placed specifically for that shot. Rising Pune Supergiant had everything going their way at this point. So Krunal had to wait. He had to time his innings to last till the end. But there was only one problem. By the time he was 15 off 17, he was the last specialist batsman standing, with 40 balls left to turn a score of 79 for 7 into something defendable.
He couldn't simply power hit though. Not on a pitch that was rather slow. He had to pick the right ball and couple that by finding gaps. In the last ball of the 18th over, he got width, and he slashed it to the left of the sweeper cover. In the 19th, he got under a slower ball and launched it over long-on. And in the 20th, he smashed a leg-stump half-volley to the rope and another length ball over it. Nobody knew it yet, but he had just taken the first step to Mumbai's victory.

Wow moment

The first of his two sixes, and if there was any doubt over his status as a man who can properly muscle the ball, there won't be anymore. First, it was a slower ball, so he had to pick it and then make all the pace himself. To do so, he strode forward, bent the back knee, kept a low centre of gravity to get under the ball and finally swung through the line. The ball never stood a chance.

Stats that matter

  • Krunal has hit fast bowling for 172 off 117 balls, at a strike-rate of 145, and spin for 71 off 62 balls, at strike-rate of 115.
  • In 20-over games, teams have only defended 129 or less on eight occasions in the IPL. The last time was in 2013.

What they said

"When wickets were falling at other end, I just wanted to play 20 overs, because I was the only batsman and I knew if I stayed till the end, I could attack'Krunal Pandya on his approach with the bat in the final.
"To be able to come and defend like that, it was a great effort. The nerves are still there. Hat's off to a great game."
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo