After the Mumbai Indians lifted their record third Indian Premier League (IPL) title, skipper Rohit Sharma credited his team's collective efforts for their plucky one-run win over rivals Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) in the 2017 final on Sunday.
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While Mumbai's earlier title wins came in 2013 and 2015 were driven by strong individual performances, Rohit believes this year's IPL title was a product of united group work with intelligence.
The 30-year-old insisted that individual brilliance could only help a team in winning a few games, but in order to clinch the title, it requires team unity and intelligence.
"I personally feel it is how you prepare at the start of the tournament - getting your combinations right and going on to the field is the most critical part of winning the tournament. Individual brilliance can win you a few games, but what is required to win this championship is team unity, team work and intelligence," ESPNcricinfo quoted Rohit as saying.
"We spoke about it at the start of the tournament. If you look at the first two titles we won, we probably had one batsman in the top five [leading run-getters]. We didn't have [even] one batsman in the top-five this time, which is a little bit sad, but that goes to show that different individuals have come up at different times and taken up responsibility. That is the hallmark of this team, especially this year," he added.
Mumbai Indians defended their total of 129 for eight in a match that went right down to the last ball in a packed Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
It was some exceptional death bowling by Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson and Jasprit Bumrah which did the trick for Rohit in a match where the two-time champions were completely off-colour in the first half of the game.
"We've never relied on one individual to win us the game. Today, was the perfect example. The bowling unit came in together. Again, we have got a few youngsters, a few inexperienced players and a few legends in our bowling unit. It was a combination of both, and we gelled quite nicely. We mixed it up nicely," Rohit explained.
In their previous two finals, Mumbai had set a target and let the bowlers do their thing.
Similarly, when Rohit opted to bat first on Sunday night, they were merely sticking to a tried and tested plan.
"When you are defending such a low target, it's so important for the fielders to try and create some magic - taking a brilliant catch or stopping those crucial runs. We spoke about it in the change room that we wanted to add 20 runs extra with our fielding. But yeah, the first ten overs we were a little sloppy in the field," Rohit said.
Defending the target, Bumrah gave Supergiant an early blow by picking up the wicket of Rahul Tripathi (3) but Ajinkya Rahane (44 off 38 balls) and skipper Steve Smith added 54 runs for the second wicket and brought the match in their favour.
Pune were cruising along nicely till the Mumbaikar tried to play a chip shot, which Kieron Pollard ran from his long-on position, and completed a nice catch diving forward.
All of a sudden, the Mumbai bowlers seemed to find their line and length and run-scoring became tight.
What really changed the course of the match was Bumrah taking the price wicket of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and giving away just three runs in the 17th over. Then Johnson, who had to defend 11 runs in the last over, switched the momentum completely by picking two crucial wickets of Manoj Tiwary (7) and Smith (51) off successive deliveries.
The left-arm Australian pacer clinched three wickets giving away just 26 runs. While Bumrah picked up two wickets, giving away 26 runs in his four-over quota. Malinga did not pick any wicket but gave away just 21 runs.
Earlier, apart from left-handed all-rounder Krunal Pandya (47 off 38 balls), who watched helplessly from the other end, none of the other Mumbai Indians batsmen showed maturity and the guts to stay at the crease.
It was because of Krunal's late hitting (three fours and two sixes) that they managed to reach close to 130 after being reduced to 79 for 7. Krunal was adjudged the Man of the Match for his brilliant knock.
Heaping praise on Pandya brothers, Rohit said that the duo has something special in them as they are always willing to contribute in some or the other way.
"I think both Pandya brothers have something special in them," Rohit said. "When you see them on the field, they are so excited to play the game. They want to contribute in some or the other way. It's just not about bowling or batting; they contribute in fielding as well which is such a critical part in this format." he added.
This was the first time since 2008 that a team finishing first in the Points-Table has lifted the trophy.
Mumbai Indians also became the first team to win the IPL Trophy for the third time in the last 10 seasons.
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