Mumbai Indians (MI) players travel atop an open bus
Mumbai Indians (MI) players travel atop an open bus during a celebration procession, after winning the IPL 2019 trophy by defeating Chennai Super Kings (CSK), in Mumbai, Monday, May 13, 2019. Image Credit: PTI

From umpiring howlers to butter-fingered teams to stunning run outs to impossible run chases, Indian Premier League 2019 was all about high-octane action. But in the end, was cricket the winner? Gulf News cricket experts gathered to find that answer and chat about other controversies. Listen to their podcast below and read about the viewpoints:

Why Mumbai are worthy champions of IPL 2019

By Shyam A. Krishna, Opinion Editor

Did Mumbai Indians deserve to win the IPL 2019? I think they earned it. Rohit Sharma’s side might have won by the narrowest of margins, but they are worthy champions.

I do feel sorry for Chennai Super Kings. A one-run loss is heart-breaking. And they fought all the way.

You could roll out the saying that cricket was the winner. In T20 cricket, there can only be one winner. And such close finishes are not uncommon. A final decided on the last ball of the tournament is a cricket enthusiast’s dream.

Lasith Malinga was the dream weaver for Mumbai. Six perfect yorkers – the last a dipping slower one – won Mumbai their fourth title.

Mumbai Indians' Lasith Malinga
Mumbai Indians' Lasith Malinga bowls during the IPL final against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 5, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

In a high-octane final, players are bound to be on edge. And the jangled nerves manifested in the form of elementary errors.

When was the last time you saw Suresh Raina drop a sitter; even Chennai skipper Dhoni couldn’t believe it. And Shane Watson, who put the Mumbai attack to sword, benefited from three lives.

Equally baffling was Mumbai wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock’s failure to collect a straight forward delivery at the end of the 19th over. The resultant four byes helped whittle a target that had become attainable.

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The final also provided insights into the genius of two rival captains. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma are cast in the mould of cold, calculating tacticians. There’s nothing ostentatious about their captaincy. Just silent inspirational leadership.

On Saturday, Dhoni showed us why they call him Captain Cool. He adroitly marshalled his bowling resources to peg back Mumbai’s initial charge, particularly after opener De Kock unfurled a flurry of strokes. Well, Keiron Pollard’s blazing finish gave Mumbai a competitive total.

Mumbai Indians players celebrate with the trophy
Mumbai Indians players celebrate with the trophy after their victory against Chennai Super Kings in the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) final match at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on May 13, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

When Chennai slumped after the early flourish, Dhoni was expected to steer his side home. But his dismissal (a controversial runout to some cricket watchers) was indeed a body blow.

That was when we saw Sharma’s tactical nous. Every time a Watson blitzkrieg threatened to sink Mumbai, Sharma brought back Jasprit Bumrah to put the match on an even keel.

Sharma’s masterstroke has been to bring on Malinga for the final over. It took courage to hand the ball to the Sri Lankan, who was very costly in his first two overs.

Malinga’s yorkers are legendary. Sharma trusted him. And Malinga rolled back the years and delivered a perfect final over.

A befitting end to a thrilling T20 final.

When umpiring howlers yorked the fun out of IPL 2019

By Chiranjib Sengupta, Assistant Editor

The just-concluded Indian Premier League was one of the most closely fought and controversial one in the tournament’s history.

And that’s not just because of the one-run thriller at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Sunday night.

What drew special attention to IPL 12 is the sorry state of umpiring – there’s still a debate raging about Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni‘s controversial run out in the IPL final against Mumbai Indians, a decision that’s supposed to be the turning point in the high-stakes match.

But also consider these:

Dhoni’s uber-popular image as ‘Captain Cool' was severely tested during their league match with Rajasthan Royals after he stormed out from the CSK dugout to confront the umpires over a no-ball call. The incident happened when CSK needed 18 runs from the final over, and the fourth delivery bowled by Ben Stokes to Mitchell Santner was first called a no-ball by umpire Ulhas Gandhe – but the decision was reversed by square-leg umpire Bruce Oxenford. A furious Dhoni confronted both the umpires while a few Rajasthan players also got involved in the heated discussion. While the delivery was ultimately deemed legal, replays suggested it was a waist high no-ball.

CSK captain M S Dhoni talks to the umpires
CSK captain M S Dhoni talks to the umpires during the IPL match against Rajasthan Royals (RR) at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur, Thursday, April 11, 2019. Image Credit: PTI

Then there was the Royal Challengers Bengaluru vs Mumbai Indians match, where RCB needed seven runs off the last ball but Lasith Malinga conceded a single to win the contest. Camera replays later clearly showed Malinga had overstepped – but there was no call for a no-ball from umpire Sundaram Ravi. That left a bittersweet victory for Mumbai Indians, with captain Rohit Sharma conceding that such umpiring howlers were unwelcome.

There were several other umpiring blunders that were in marked contrast to the general level of professionalism in the competition – with social media users asking whether every match should only be officiated by the Third Umpire to eliminate human errors. While that’s still a matter of debate, the juvenile level of umpiring has certainly cast a cloud over IPL and eroded much of its shine and credibility.

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Controversies apart, it was the best team which deserved to win the final.

The only problem on an intense and competitive Sunday night was that neither Mumbai Indians nor CSK deserved to go home with the runners-up trophy.

So who were the heroes of the night?

Having posted a complete under par 149, butter-fingered Mumbai were virtually out of contention but for Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga’s memorable final over. That was after CSK opener Shane Watson smashed the only half-century of the match while battling a bleeding knee - but his heroic 80 could not save the day.

Mumbai Indians Jasprit Bumrah
Mumbai Indians Jasprit Bumrah, right, celebrates the dismissal of Chennai Super King's Ambati Rayudu, left, during the VIVO IPL T20 cricket final match in Hyderabad, on Sunday, May 12, 2019. Image Credit: AP

While there wild celebrations all around, for every Malinga let’s also remember a Shane Watson; for every Bumrah and Rahul Chahar, let’s also remember brother Deepak Chahar and an Imran Tahir.

Cricket, as they say, is a great leveler.