ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS Lasith Malinga produced an incredible last over to defend nine runs as Mumbai Indians claimed undisputed supremacy in the IPL by securing their fourth title with a narrow one-run win over Chennai Super Kings in a pulsating final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday.
CSK needed nine runs off the last over but the experienced Lankan pacer kept his nerve to concede seven. He trapped Shardul Thakur leg before off the last ball after Watson (80 off 59) was run out two balls earlier.
Before that Jasprit Bumrah (2/14) kept Mumbai in the hunt with his tidy overs and two wickets, getting rid of Dwayne Bravo and Ambati Rayudu. The Indian pacer produced 13 dot balls. Young leg-spinner Rahul Chahar (1/14) also played a key role in the middle overs as he too created pressure by bowling 13 dot balls.
Both teams were tied at three IPL titles each heading into the final, with Mumbai holding the upper hand, having beaten CSK thrice earlier in the competition.
The heart-stopping finish came after a disciplined bowling performance from CSK who restricted Mumbai Indians to 149 for eight.
CSK have now lost to Mumbai for the third time in four finals.
CSK had made a steady start by reaching 53 for one in the powerplay but Mumbai bounced back in the middle overs, removing a struggling Suresh Raina (8 off 14) before getting rid of Rayudu to have CSK under the pump.
The biggest moment came of the game in the 13th over when Dhoni was run out trying to steal an extra single. An alert Ishan Kishan was spot on with his direct hit and he just about managed to get the better of Dhoni.
Since it involved the CSK skipper, high drama was on display as third umpire Nigel Llong saw replays with all possible angles and took his time before making the decision.
It was an outstanding effort from Chahar (1/14) in the middle overs, putting CSK under tremendous pressure as they could collect only 16 runs between 11-15 overs with the loss of two wickets.
Against the run of play, Watson walloped Malinga for three fours and a six in the 16th over that went for 20 runs and kept CSK in the game.
The game changed drastically in CSK's favour when Watson hammered Krunal Pandya for three consecutive sixes, reducing the target to 18 off 12 but somehow Mumbai managed to keep CSK at bay.
Earlier, after opting to bat in a big game, Mumbai ended up with a below-par total despite Kieron Pollard's unbeaten 41 off 25 balls.
Deepak Chahar (3/26) was impressive once again and so was fellow pacer Shardul Thakur (2/37). The spinners, Harbhajan Singh (0/27) and Imran Tahir (2/23), too played a crucial role in restricting Mumbai Indians. Tahir, 40, also became the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with his effort, increasing his tally to 26.