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IPL 2020 | MI vs RR: Today I Learnt - RR’s match-up obsession and the Smith/Samson flop-show

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RR were thrashed by Mumbai in Abu Dhabi

@ IPL T20

IPL 2020 | MI vs RR: Today I Learnt - RR’s match-up obsession and the Smith/Samson flop-show

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Anirudh Suresh

10/06/2020

Having lost each of their last 4 H2H games to RR, defending champs Mumbai Indians made a mockery of ‘match-ups’ on Tuesday to overthrow Delhi Capitals at the top of the table. SKY and Boult were among those who shone for MI, but the victory was handed to them on a platter by RR, who self-destructed.

 RR’s match-up obsession is getting unhealthy

“Match-up” is a word we’ve heard over and again this season from commentators and sides, too, seem to be swaying towards its significance. And mind you, we’ve seen it work - the Axar vs Watson battle was a prime example of how data-driven inputs can work like a charm. However, that said, there needs to be a line drawn; it’d be outrightly naive and foolish to select your team pertinent to match-ups, ignoring the form of players. Rajpoot’s selection today seemed like a ‘hopeful’, matchup-driven pick which ignored form. Despie Rajpoot, RR’s primary new-ball bowler, being belted in the powerplay in his two previous appearances this season - 0/19 in 2 vs KKR and 0/24 in 2 vs KXIP - RR picked the right-armer just because he had the timber over Rohit (11 balls, Seven runs, Two dismissals). Spoilers, the ploy failed. Rajpoot was once again pasted inside the powerplay, this time for 25 off 2 overs, and Rajasthan were once again at the mercy of their opponents in under six overs. Match-ups are good, but the form and quality of the player needs to be taken into account, too. Do I think Rajasthan would have been better off, today, with Akash Singh? Absolutely.

Suryakumar Yadav needs to be considered for national selection ASAP

The six off Kuldeep over extra cover versus Kolkata;  the lofted drive over cover off Sid Kaul against the Sunrisers; the drilled cover-drive off Sheldon Cottrell versus Punjab; the inside-out loft off the backfoot of Shreyas Gopal versus Rajasthan today - I’m talking about Suryakumar Yadav’s shot-making this season and well, I’ve only talked about his shots in one region. It is remarkable how easy SKY has made batting look, this season. Everytime he’s walked out to bat - regardless of the situation - the right-hander has started off like someone who’s batting on 143* - his confidence levels have been sky high (no pun intended) and his stroke-making has been second to none. All that was evading him was a big score - for a brief while, there was the fear that he would become the James Vince of IPL 2020 - and deservedly, he got it today. Would it be an overstatement to say that, all things considered, he’s been the most assertive Indian middle-order batsman this season? I really do think so. In terms of his stroke-making, he’s been a cut above every batsman in the tournament and in terms of sheer fluency and dynamism, he’s outperformed all four of Iyer, Pandey, Samson and Pant. Should the right-hander keep up this form, after all he’s done over the previous years, it would be an absolute injustice to not consider him for national selection. 

Steve Smith and Sanju need to be whacked on their heads

Honestly, gentlemen, what on sweet earth is going on with you two? The Kolkata failure was understandable, for the transition from Sharjah to Dubai, as everyone knows, is tough, the Bangalore no-show had a bit of misfortune attached to it (inside edge and controversial catch) but the showing today? Good lord, if there ever were two shots which deserved an outright axe from the side, it was the ones played by Smith and Samson today. Smith, in particular. In any side, under any circumstance, what Smith and Samson today would have been unacceptable, but in a top-heavy team like Rajasthan in a chase of 194? Criminal. Especially when it comes to Smith, it is hard to understand what’s going on in his head. What he did today was his second brainfade in three games, after his bizarre ‘battle’ with Cummins last week. With Samson, at least, one can bring the argument that he is someone who is naturally inclined towards being aggressive, but Smith, being the skipper, manufacturing stupidity out of nothing is just mind-boggling. RR are winning no more non-Sharjah games if this circus continues; here’s hoping coach McDonald gives an earful to the duo for their unacceptable showing. 

Mumbai Indians have the best batting line-up in the tournament. Period.

Mumbai’s pace-attack is hailed as the best in the entire competition, and rightfully so, but we never give enough credit to their batsmen, do we? I mean, 191 has been their ‘lowest’ score across their last five games, that’s how good, consistent and reliable their batting has been. If de Kock doesn’t get you, Rohit will; if Rohit doesn’t get you, SKY will; if SKY doesn’t get you, Kishan will; if Kishan doesn’t get you, Hardik will; if Hardik doesn’t get you, Pollard will and if Pollard doesn’t get you, Krunal will. How on god’s earth are bowling teams supposed to penetrate through this line-up? Jeez. What separates Mumbai from the rest is that there is no one batsman they are reliant on. Sure, Rohit on paper might be their ‘best batsman’, but really, they will still be elite even if you oust him from the side; that they scored over 200 the last two times Rohit posted single-digit scores speaks volumes. With Quinton rediscovering his touch slowly but steadily, Mumbai are going to be (even more) unassailable with the bat. Good luck to the rest of the sides. 

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