After making a meal of a relatively easy target against Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions, Mumbai Indians were heading towards another nervy finish against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday (May 1).
Chasing 162, the two-time IPL champions needed 29 runs from the last overs – an easy task considering a well-set Rohit Sharma and the in-form Hardik Pandya were present in the middle. But the way they had succumbed to pressure in their last two games from a strong position, the chase was never going to be an easy one.
Virat Kohli handed the ball to Aniket Choudhary to bowl the important 18th over and the left-arm pacer began strongly. He began the over with two slower deliveries, conceding single on both the occasions before Kohli was seen murmuring something in his ear. The next two deliveries were also slower ones which went for three runs. A surprising fast-delivery then took Pandya by surprise as he failed to score off the penultimate delivery.
It was very much likely that Pandya would go for the big shot on the final delivery and Aniket bowled another slower delivery but it was rightly adjudged a wide delivery. With pressure mounting on him, he walked up to AB de Villiers for advice and even as Kohli yelled out instructions to the bowler after his talk with de Villiers, Aniket bowled a straight, fast and short ball. The ball was asking to be hit and Pandya obliged, hitting it into the deep square stand to bring down the equation to 18 runs off 12 balls much to the disappointment of Kohli who was looking angry with Aniket. Mumbai Indians went on to win the match with one ball remaining.
Speaking after the match, Aniket revealed what prompted him to bowl the quicker delivery instead of the tried and tested slower deliveries.
“In the last training session, I was practising with AB and he said I was bowling well. In this match also, he was backing me from the first ball. As far as the last ball was concerned, I was wondering whether to bowl (Hardik) the slower one or a fast one. Maybe it was a match-changing point. So I asked him (AB) ‘what should I bowl?’ He said ‘maybe he’s ready for the slower one, you should go with the hard length.’ When someone as great as AB tells you to do something, it’s hard to go against it. Virat wasn’t happy with what I bowled. He thought I did the wrong thing and should have bowled full and slow,” said Aniket at the post-match conference.
The Rajasthan pacer also said that the 162-run score put up by his team was not enough before admitting that relying more on slower deliveries would have changed the outcome of the match.
“I don’t think so (when asked was it enough). We batted first and we understood how it behaved. I think if we had bowled more slow balls, we could have stopped them from getting to the target. It was a decent wicket, but we bowled a few bad balls here and there,” he said.
“Things didn’t go our way. Things happen quite fast in T20 and when things don’t go your way (the team fails),” he said.
The defeat, meanwhile, was Bangalore’s 8th in 11 matches, leaving them with just five points with only three games remaining.