It’s been a tournament of fast bowlers where they have enjoyed the conditions and gone for all-out pace. Come the final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium and it was a different story. The pitch had tired and the MI pacers got smart.
Known for their diligence, it was another example of the MI think-tank doing their homework well. A counter-attack by Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant had repaired the early damage done by the bowlers, with three wickets down for 22 runs. A solid assault in the slog overs and DC would have had the total to put serious pressure on Mumbai.
Nathan Coulter-Nile was supposed to be the weak-link and an ideal target. He turned out to be the unlikely hero in the pressure period, by first breaking the 96-run partnership between Pant and Iyer, and then bowling the last over for eight runs. He did all that by cutting pace.
With Iyer and Pant going great guns and his main strike bowler, Bumrah, not finding the range with his yorkers, captain Rohit Sharma brought on Coulter-Nile for the 15th over. The MI pacer started with a 135-plus ball and his fourth was clocked at 137.7kph, which was top edged for four, the second of the over. Coulter-Nile deployed the slower ball. Banged in short at 125kph, Pant looked to help it on its way but was caught by Hardik Patel at fine leg. The trap was laid by Sharma who had moved the fielder back from square leg before the ball.
In the final over, Coulter-Nile got another important wicket with a slower one; his 111kph short ball had Axar Patel playing straight down Anukul Roy’s throat at deep midwicket.
Another example of the effectiveness of mixing the pace was when the crafty Trent Boult bamboozled Shimron Hetmyer in the slog overs (17th) with an 117kph outside the off short ball. Hetmyer tried to help the ball over the third man but couldn’t get any power behind the shot to be easily caught.