Rahul Dravid played his last match as a professional cricketer, on Sunday
New Delhi/Calcutta: Two legends in rival teams, that too in a final… It doesn’t get much better than this. For the scorecard, there was only one winner of the day… Cricket. And those who witnessed that in person, at the Kotla, would cherish it for the rest of their lives.
The halos of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid outshone every other important moment on an emotional Sunday night. Even as Mumbai Indians won this edition of the CLT20 defeating the Rajasthan Royals by 33 runs, the match was elevated to a much greater height for the fact that it was the last, in different senses, for Sachin and Dravid.
For Sachin, it was his last appearance in the T20 format. For Dravid, it was the last time that we saw him as a professional cricketer. Neither was very successful with the bat.
While Sachin lasted 13 balls to score 15, Dravid’s life on the pitch was just two balls old when he was bowled by Nathan Coulter-Nile. But such has been the phenomenal contribution of both these icons that the world will hardly remember Sunday’s match for their batting.
Coming back to the match proper, Mumbai Indians won half the battle when they posted a commanding 202 for six in their 20 overs. Almost everyone contributed for them with the bat, Dwayne Smith (44) being the top-scorer. It was always going to be a difficult chase for the Royals, more so without the injured Brad Hodge.
The Royals fought gallantly, with Ajinkya Rahane (65) and Sanju Samson (60) leading the charge. They were very much in the chase till the 16th over. But then they lost seven wickets in a space of 16 balls to lose the match. Strangely, Dravid came in at No.8.
For the Mumbai side, Harbhajan Singh, the Man of the Match, was star with the ball, claiming four for 32. Kieron Pollard took three wickets. Mumbai Indians, the IPL champions, thus completed a double, a feat which was accomplished by the Chennai Super Kings in 2010.
The Royals’ head coach Paddy Upton felt the decision to field was justified. “The decision to bowl first was a collective one. The final could have been anybody’s game. The boys played remarkably well for the entire tournament.
“In fact, we were in the match till the time Sanju (Samson) and (Ajinkya) Rahane was there. It was an even battle. Mumbai Indians also batted very well,” Upton said.
He also defended Dravid’s decision to come in at No.8.
“We needed to push hard for chasing a 200-plus target. It was not Rahul’s strength. So we decided to send others first…”
The following are excerpts
Rohit Sharma: It was a nerve-wracking finish to the final, but we did expect it. To start with, there was a great build-up to the match. We knew that two of the legends of Indian cricket — Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid — would take to the field for the last time in coloured clothing. I would like to thank them for their contribution towards Indian cricket.
Then, while batting, we started off really well. We needed that because we knew there would be dew later in the evening… We needed to put up a big score. And that’s exactly what Dwayne Smith did for us… Glenn Maxwell gave us the perfect finish.
They started off the chase superbly, but our bowlers did their bit towards the end. Harbhajan Singh, especially, was great today.
Winning this is the icing on the cake, since we have also won the IPL this year. We always like playing the Champions League, the name itself suggests why. I would like to thank everyone associated with the MI for this victory. There were a lot of expectations from us, and it feels nice that we could deliver. It is great to finish with a double.
On the personal front, I feel that if I can perform as a captain, my teammates also get inspired. Even India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni inspires the rest of his team the same way. I also received a lot of support from my teammates when the going was tough for me...
Rahul Dravid: It was a fantastic chase from us. All the players chipped in. Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane were outstanding today. But, we gave them too much to do. We had also given away too many runs in the final overs. They had some superb firepower in their batting and they deserved the victory.
I am proud of the efforts of my team. It was a great final, we did very well and the crowds have been terrific as well.
I have loved working with this team management and it has been a privilege to work with them. I am looking forward to work with this unit in future as well.
I am grateful for the kind of support that both the teams gave me when I entered the ground today. It was very touching.
Harbhajan Singh (MoM): I am very happy. It is a great feeling to win two trophies in one year. The credit goes to the team and the management. And I am very happy with my performance as well.
They started off well, particularly Sanju and Rahane. It was easier to score runs with the new ball. But, later on, once the ball got a bit older, it became hard to bat. But, still we had to maintain our line and length as there was dew on the surface.
The last over of mine, the one in which I got three wickets, was perhaps the best ever I have bowled over the last three months. I had not practised at all as I was travelling overseas...
I am very happy to get the MoM award in the final. I have got this award in the final a couple of times before as well.
And hopefully, a few more would come my way in the future. I am looking forward to the Duleep Trophy and the long season coming up for India.