Delhi Capitals 156/7 in 20 overs (Shreyas Iyer 65, Rishabh Pant 56; Trent Boult 4-0-30-3, Nathan Coulter-Nile 4-0-29-2) lost to Mumbai Indians 157/5 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 68, Ishan Kishan 33 ; Anirch Nortje 2.4-0-25-2) by 5 wickets
The voodoo has been broken! The Mumbai Indians have finally won in an even-number year. And they’ve done it without breaking a sweat. They say that the best teams always peak towards the back-end, and that’s exactly what Mumbai has done. While the Delhi Capitals were off to a flying start early into the tournament, their form over the last six games has been akin to relegation form. It probably came down to the difference in experience between the two teams, with Mumbai’s veterans knowing just how to pace themselves over the entire duration of seven-and-a-half weeks.
Delhi’s batsmen needed to get off to a better start than they did in their previous game against Mumbai. The problem was that the bar had been set every low, with Delhi needing to score one run before the loss of three wickets to better that performance. Trent Boult, who was traded by Delhi to Mumbai for an all-cash deal before IPL 2020, spelt doom for Delhi when he removed the in-form Marcus Stoinis and Ajinkya Rahane. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, who’ve both had below-par seasons, launched a counter-attack to bring Delhi back into the game. Pant’s dismissal just before getting into the death overs was a massive blow for Delhi, and they hobbled to 156. It was always going to be a big ask for their bowlers to restrict Mumbai’s superstar batters from then on.
Rohit Sharma played a captain’s knock and the innings revolved around him. Quinton de Kock was unable to convert his start, nor was Suryakumar Yadav. Yadav chose to sacrifice his own wicket for Rohit, in a terrible mishap that had the former ball-watching instead of responding to the call. Ishan Kishan’s stock has risen considerably this season, especially with Pant’s struggles. While his teammate Yadav made news for not being included in the squad for the Australia tour, Kishan perhaps has even bigger reason to feel hard done by. An India cap isn’t too far away for the young southpaw from Jharkhand, if he keeps this pace up. By the time Rohit fell, the asking rate was less than a run-a-ball. Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya too fell, trying to go for glory shots to get the match over with. In the end, despite losing half their team, the defending champions defended their title quite comfortably, beating Delhi for a fourth time this season.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mumbai would’ve probably won the game even without Rohit’s knock because Boult’s spell put them in that kind of a position. Stoinis was the one player in Delhi’s top four that could have dealt some significant damage to Mumbai in terms of strike rate. His early dismissal off Boult had Delhi on the back foot from the first ball. The second and third highest wicket takers this season (Jasprit Bumrah and Boult) were both from Mumbai, and it made quite a difference.
The difference between the two powerplays
While Delhi lost three wickets in their powerplay, Mumbai scored nearly 60 in theirs. The difference between the two teams boiled down to that. Mumbai, knowing that the target in front wasn’t very big, could have gone a little slow. But they knew that a quick start would give them enough leeway to play through the middle overs while not allowing any chance for a Delhi comeback.
R Ashwin needed to have a big game today. Especially against the left-handers de Kock and Kishan. Rohit too has his struggles against spin early on. An early dismissals for him, and Delhi could have at least have made Mumbai work hard for the win.
Sport may not cure the pandemic that we are all in right now, but it does make everyone’s lives a little easier, if only for three hours a day. IPL and cricket’s return to our TV and laptop sets did that, and more this year. Without the involvement of the crowds at the venue the atmosphere was considerably dull, but the cricket was not. To conduct a tournament of this magnitude without any major hiccups, all the while maintaining so many bio bubbles, credit must go to the BCCI for pulling off this grand spectacle. This even year has managed to be a very odd year, and perhaps that’s the reason why Mumbai won!
The next IPL is only six months away, and it will be interesting to see whether there’s any fatigue due to an overdose of franchise cricket. If not, could this be the stepping stone for franchise cricket to dominate the calendar? If leagues continue to rake in massive interest, could we see a further diminishing of the time spent on tournaments between national sides?