Qualifier 1, Dubai Sports Club (DSC), 5th Nov 2020
Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 200/5, Ishan Kishan 55* R Ashwin 3/29 beat Delhi Capitals 143/8, Marcus Stoinis 143/8, J Bumrah 4/14 by 57 runs
To call Mumbai Indians’ batting line up intimidating would be an understatement. So much so that Delhi Capitals got Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard out for ducks and still MI ended up at 200/5. Their bowling was a class apart, dismantling DC’s top order with surgical precision. For every challenge thrown at them in this year’s IPL, MI have found a solution – be it while defending scores or chasing them down. And probably, are the only team to have adapted to the changes in conditions in the UAE as this season unfolded.
A batting powerhouse
MI’s batting line-up in this year’s IPL has been a juggernaut that no opposition has found a way to stop. Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav’s explosive starts have provided MI the springboard to tee off in the slog overs even if the middle overs weren’t high yielding, despite the fact that The Hitman has had a sub-par IPL by his own standards.
Ishan Kishan has been a revelation for MI this season with his ability to shift gears quickly and bring out the big hits. Team India fans would hope Hardik Pandya carries his form in the middle order from the MI blue to the India blue. With MS Dhoni calling time on his international career, an in-form Hardik would ease captain Kohli’s burden. Unlike his Caribbean contemporaries who have slowed down with age, Pollard seems to have a secret store of a magic potion to keep him going – helping MI set targets above par, pulling off stunners in the field and chasing down totals with ease.
The fast and the furious
Shikhar Dhawan would have faced Jasprit Bumrah in the nets many a times and yet he had no answer to the brute of a yorker he received from him – second best to the one he got Shaun Marsh with back in 2018 in Australia. Despite an indifferent start to this year’s IPL, Bumrah has regained his rhythm and pipped Kagiso Rabada to take the pole position among the bowlers in IPL 2020. With Trent Boult breathing fire from the other end, DC were pushed back a couple of steps even before they could start their chase. Before they could realise what hit them, MI’s bowlers had taken the game well out of their reach. With MI’s bowlers at their indomitable best, the other finalist can only hope that their bowlers come good against the MI batters and leave nothing for MI’s bowlers to defend.
DC have to subdue their demons
Thanks to their second-place finish in the points table, DC have another shot at the finals. They also have another chance to assess if they have got the right 11 on the field. DC opened with Daniel Sams in a bid to preserve Rabada and Anrich Nortje for the MI middle order – something that wasn’t lost on de Kock.
Did DC focus their game-plan too much on containing Hardik Pandya and Pollard that they missed a trick to break into MI’s middle order by giving either of Rabada or Nortje an extended spell at the top? R Ashwin has been brilliant and should consider himself unlucky to not reclaim his spot in white ball cricket for Team India. But again, could DC have bowled Ashwin in spells and kept an over for later? DC should look to bring in Shimron Hetmyer for Sams, with Marcus Stoinis completing the quota of the fifth bowler. Time is running out for Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant, who haven’t helped their teams’ causes or their own (to make it to Team India’s first choice 11). They would need to come good at the earliest if DC fancy their chance of making it to the finals and taking on MI for the IPL trophy.