SK flashback: When Corey Anderson thrashed Rajasthan Royals to win the game for Mumbai Indians with 5.2 overs to spare
A do-or-die match for both the teams for the last spot in the playoffs of IPL 2014; it had all boiled down to the last match in the league.
While Rajasthan Royals had to simply win the match to gain the two points and enter the Eliminator, the Mumbai Indians team with a negative net run rate had constraints - they had to defeat the visitors by 42 runs or with 33 balls to spare. An intense game with the playoffs at stake, the pressure began even before the match could.
The backdrop of the match
It seemed a sure thing to find the Royals team amidst the first two names of the table. However, in their previous encounter against the Mumbai team, a bizarre experiment with the squad led to their defeat by 25 runs. Tambe, who was their find of the season was also rested in that game.
With the likes of Michael Hussey, Lendl Simmons, Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard, the defending champions were looking strong in the batting unit. Harbhajan Singh and Jasprit Bumrah looked good whilst leading the bowling unit. Despite striking a balance in their team, they had lost 7 out of 13 games they had played until then.
Domestic cake and Australian icing
Rohit Sharma won the toss and named Corey Anderson as the replacement of Marchant de Lange, a replacement he'd thank the gods for later. The Rajasthan Royals, after being put into bat, got off to a decent start in the powerplay.
The opening pair of Watson and Samson rotated strikes and hit some boundaries in between, maintaining a scoring rate of 6 per over. However, Watson tried to come down the pitch and hit the ball from Harbhajan over long-on but the ball hit the inside edge and went a lot squarer with Pollard grabbing a stunning catch.
The next batsman in was Karun Nair, a man riding on his domestic brilliance from the Ranji season. He joined another domestic star in the middle to take the team forward. Starting off slowly, the duo added a total of 100 runs in around 9 overs.
The momentum was set right, it seemed like both the boys would score centuries or at least Samson would. However, the partnership was broken when Nair hit a ball off Bumrah's bowling directly to Lendl Simmons and was out at 50. And soon, within 3 balls, Samson was sent back by Shreyas Gopal.
The score was 136-3 with 4 and a half overs to go and two batsmen who'd maintained an outstanding record that season - Faulkner and Hodge - were out in the middle.
The all-rounders from Australia began charging the balls beyond the boundary ropes. Harbhajan's bowling, especially, was made a target and cherished by the duo. A total of 53 runs were added hence, steering the grand total to 189.
Corey to the rescue
Simmons gave MI the dream start by scoring three boundaries in the first over. The Wankhede Stadium cheered and was slowly building its hopes but then Dhawal Kulkarni's slow-ball trap caught Simmons. Corey Anderson walked in and what followed was put into the records of IPL.
Anderson smashed the ball all around the park right from the start. The partnership between Anderson and Hussey seemed just right to compensate for Nair-Samson's but Kevon Cooper bowled out Mr. Cricket at the point of 4.2 overs.
Pollard and Rohit Sharma came in next. Although they scored some quickies, both were out early and did not put up a partnership with Anderson who was now rearing towards his half-century.
At 9.2 overs, Ambati Rayudu walked in. In the 5.1 overs shared by Anderson and Rayudu, Anderson played most of them reaching his record score of 95. He had taken 7.5 overs to finish his fifty while 4.3 overs to add the last 45 runs.
Rayudu batted at a strike rate of 300. The man hit 5 boundaries and a six in his 10-ball innings. The score was 188, at 14.3 overs. The duo of Nair and Samson were at it again as they ran Rayudu out in his attempt at running the second run.
The scores were level when the wicket-keeper batsman, Aditya Tare trudged to the centre. The field was set to defend the single although Watson knew that the match was done and dusted. On the final ball, Faulkner ran in and bowled a faulty full toss at Tare's pads and he sent it beyond the boundary line.
The done deal
The entire Mumbai Indians squad came running down to the middle. Anderson had silenced all his critics with this outstanding performance. Mumbai had achieved a feat that was unexpected of them or of any team in the league.
With over 5 overs remaining, the defending champions qualified for the Eliminator with a positive NRR of 0.095. It was probably the best league-ending match that the IPL had seen.