IPL: a thrilling finish

The fans, the organisers and the broadcasters couldn’t have asked for a more exciting finish to the Indian Premier League as Mumbai Indians pipped Chennai Super Kings to the post on Sunday -- the same day that Manchester City beat Brighton to emerge English Premier League champs at the expense of Liverpool. The similarity between Mumbai's and City’s march to the title was unmissable. City was the only team that Liverpool couldn’t beat this season, just as Mumbai remained impregnable for an otherwise efficient Super Kings. In a nail-biting last-ball thriller, Mumbai lifted the T20 trophy for the fourth time, beating their arch-rivals for the fourth time in as many matches this season. M S Dhoni’s men, who exploited the home conditions better than any other team in the league, were the first to qualify for the play-offs but they could never upstage Mumbai, who seem to have the wood on the southern giants. For a while, Super Kings appeared headed for their fourth title, having taken control of the low-scoring final in Hyderabad, but Dhoni’s rare run-out turned the match on its head.

Between these two teams, they have seven titles in 13 combined final appearances –- a staggering success rate which should be a lesson to franchises like Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab, who are yet to bring home the trophy. Delhi Capitals, another underperformer for a long time, got their act together making the play-offs before the inexperience in their side came to haunt them in Qualifier 2. The 12th edition also saw some individuals light up the league with their superlative performances. KKR’s Andre Russell led the list with his breathtaking hitting. The returning David Warner showed he had lost little of his batting prowess following a one-year ban, once again finishing the league as the highest run-getter. Hardik Pandya was another player who matched, if not bettered, Russell in beating the daylight out of bowlers. While there is no doubt that it’s a young man’s game, quite a few veterans proved they still remain relevant in this format. Dhoni’s chutzpah, Imran Tahir’s exuberance, Chris Gayle’s power-hitting, Lasith Malinga’s sharpness with the ball and AB de Villiers’ pyrotechnics enthralled the audience.

And what is IPL without some controversies? R Ashwin’s Mankad-ing of Jos Buttler divided the cricketing fraternity while a number of silly umpiring errors invited open rebuke from the players. In one incident, Dhoni lost his cool and barged on to the field while English umpire Nigel Llong blew his top and damaged a door of the umpire’s room in Bengaluru. Cricket, however, remained the focal point of discussion as the curtains came down on the fiesta.

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