Mumbai Indians romped home to another victory after beating CSK in the nerve-wracking final by a whisker to claim the IPL trophy for the record 4th time. The star-studded MI side have lived up to the expectations and were the team to beat this season on the back of some valiant performances.
lt is often said, cricket is a team game, but more often than not, individual brilliance camouflages the belief. However, Mumbai Indians’ journey this season corroborates the belief above. The side finished at the apex on the points table, yet there were not too many names in the top 10 list of Orange Cap and Purple Cap holders. In fact, they only have a name apiece in both the lists – Quinton de Kock and Jasprit Bumrah respectively. The team has not banked on a particular individual consistently to bail them out and different players have stepped up on different occasions.
In the final too, there was not a single fifty scored by any MI batsmen, while the bowlers did a collective job, yet they managed to lift the trophy for a record fourth time. Talking about their journey, MI clicked from the outset this season unlike 2018, where they started rediscovering their mojo towards the business end of the tournament. Rohit Sharma’s captaincy was right on the money and manoeuvred his resources quite efficiently. Rohit showed immense faith in his players and was rarely let him down. Such backing only pushes the players for good and habitually gets the best out of them.
MI had a lot of self-belief this season and were crystal clear with their planning and implementation. Unlike Royal Challengers Bangalore, there weren’t many chopping and changing happening, which gave players a sense of security and assurance regarding their place in the playing XI.
One of the key aspects behind MI’s successful stint has been their impactful domestic core. Not many teams are blessed with the kind of talent and bench strength MI have. They have a fine aura of experienced players and budding talents, which is also a deadly combination to have.
The shining Surya
A lot of things worked out for MI this season and the result is there for everyone to be seen. Hardik Pandya’s return to form, Rohit Sharma’s shrewd captaincy, Rahul Chahar making a mark and de Kock’s success at the top were the main ingredients behind MI’s recipe. Another bonus for MI this season was Suryakumar Yadav’s establishment into a reliable batsman in the line-up. Yadav amassed 424 runs this season, but if one introspects his performance closely, he could have achieved a lot more than what he eventually did. He didn’t struggle but got out after good starts, which is atrocious at this level. Nevertheless, he did get the tough runs and set up the game for the explosive batsmen to come.
The irresistible rise of Hardik Pandya
Hardik left many bewildered with his calculated aggression and consistency. He looked in the form of his life and was the reason behind nightmares for many bowlers this season. While Andre Russell grabbed most of the headlines, Hardik was just behind the Caribbean all-rounder in terms of strike-rate. He is a splendid combination of brute force and finesse. He may not look muscular or beefy but when the leather kisses his willow, it sails over the boundary line with utter ease. To add to his good fortune, Hardik shone as a bowler too, scalping key wickets under pressure.
De Kock firing with all guns
With Rohit not looking in his zone this season, de Kock made up for it with some power-hitting against the new ball at the top. There were no half measures and the southpaw played some fearless brand of cricket to get emphatic starts time after time. He finished as the highest run-scorer for MI this season and third overall with 529 runs in his basket.
Chahar weaves magic with the ball
Rahul Chahar has been a sensation to watch this season. The way he pulled things back for MI in the final gave an impression of him being the one for a long haul. The pressure was always on him to justify his position ahead of Mayank Markande, who was instrumental last season. But Chahar soaked in all the pressure and came out in flying colours. Along with drying up the runs in the middle, Chahar’s wily leg-spin also helped him bag crucial wickets and debunk the myth of leg-spinners being expensive customers.
The mainstays living up to their reputation
Apart from these, the persistence with Kieron Pollard bore fruit as the Caribbean giant contributed heavily in two crucial games including the final. And needless to say, Bumrah was magnificent with the ball. Lasith Malinga and Bumrah have hunted in pair and turned things in the death overs time and again for MI with their immaculate control and smart execution.
Rohit: the captain, the saviour!
While a lot has been spoken about MS Dhoni’s sharp captaincy, Rohit has been deceptively impactful. At times, personal failures hamper a captain’s strategy, but Rohit defied the odds and was outstanding on that front. He remained unfazed by his parched runs column and successfully guided his side to fourth IPL title. Of course, there were few futile calls, but on a whole, he was inspirational as the MI skipper.
What didn’t work
Rohit’s parched runs column
MI didn’t have a lot of weaknesses this season and other players stepped up to make up for the misfiring ones, but if one had to point out a few loopholes that would be in the middle-order along with a hot and cold Rohit. Rohit did look a little rusty this season and struggled to get good starts at the top. This didn’t hurt MI massively as de Kock’s willow was spilling fire. Although he managed to cross the 400-run mark, he was nowhere close to the benchmark he sets in this tournament. The good thing was his persistence with the opening slot, but apart from two significant knocks, there was nothing of substance from the MI skipper.
The world is a better place when Yuvraj Singh is in flow! However, that joy didn’t last too long as Yuvraj fizzled out after an emphatic fifty against Delhi Capitals. MI wasted no time and made quick amends by roping Ishan Kishan in the playing XI, but the southpaw looked scratchy on a frequent basis. He played seven games this season but hardly made any impact by garnering just 101 runs at a poor average of just over 16. Krunal Pandya got ample of chances to bat in the middle, but 183 from 15 innings speak about the ineffectiveness. Again, it didn’t cost a lot as Hardik and Pollard inflicted immense damage in the lower middle-order.
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