Having won the toss, Punjab went the Sunrisers way, choosing to field first on a tacky surface in Chepauk, restricting Mumbai to just 131/6 despite Rohit Sharma’s 52-ball 63. In the second half, it required great batting from KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Chris Gayle to take Punjab home with ease.
Where Mumbai Indians lost the game
In Chennai, it is a given thing that you make the fullest use of the powerplay and take the game to the opposition. While Mumbai employed the same approach thus far in the tournament, today they took a rather dubious approach, one that really reduced their chances of winning drastically, all because of their own doings. 21 runs in the first six overs is criminal, even if you have the best of bowlers bowling against you, which is where Mumbai lost the game.
Punjab Kings got their powerplay tactics on point
One of the puzzling things in this year’s IPL has been Punjab Kings and their strategy in the powerplay. But in Chennai, on Friday, they were on point and could even argue, put on the best bowling display in the powerplay, taking Mumbai’s heavy top-order attack by their throat. They restricted Mumbai to 21/1, in six overs! Yes, take note, other franchises - Punjab just outwitted Mumbai - at their own game. And they took a really big leaf out of Delhi’s book after the Capitals had just outsmarted Mumbai on all fronts. Be it introducing Moises Henriques with the new ball, bowling Deepak Hooda from the other end to ending the powerplay with Mohammed Shami, Punjab got every aspect of it right and on a surface, where scoring runs in the powerplay is relatively easier than in the middle-overs. Now let’s talk about the match-ups, Ishan Kishan has had his worst IPL record against off-spinners, where he has scored at a strike rate of 96.7, well under par, which was one of the prime reasons for Rahul trusting Hooda with the job. Interestingly, the match-ups, the planning and every bowler were right on point, which allowed Punjab to restrict Mumbai to just 21 runs after the powerplay, their fourth-lowest in IPL history.
Hardik Pandya’s form is hurting Mumbai Indians
Five games into the season, Mumbai Indians’ middle-order has become the talk of the town and none bigger than Hardik Pandya’s form for the Mumbai Indians. After having one of his best seasons in Australia, purely as a batsman in the middle-order, put on a show after a 281-run season for Mumbai, at a strike-rate of 178.98, averaging 35.12. Not just that, in the recent limited-overs series, the all-rounder had a comeback with the ball, bowling the important overs. However, coming to the IPL, in the very first encounter, the all-rounder was back to being just a batsman, where his impact was very minimal for the franchise. Thus far this season, the right-hander has just scored 36 runs in five games, averaging nine and striking it at 102.85, despite getting promoted from time to time for the franchise. Today was yet another such day for Hardik, who really came out smashing without even getting used to the conditions. After facing just four deliveries, Pandya came out smashing, straight to the fielder, which really took away all his efforts in the Indian blue. His effort, or the lack of one in the tournament is really hurting the Mumbai Indians, with their middle-order looking like a nice chunk of thin wafers.
Chasing is also fashionable in Chennai, lads!
Let’s just say, teams haven’t been one iota smart in their approach of chasing down totals at the venue in Chennai, where batting first has taken precedence. However, in the span of two days, two franchises - SRH and PBKS - have shown that chasing is perhaps also fashionable in Chennai but requires utmost skills to pull off a run-chase at the venue. While Sunrisers dominated, utilising Jonny Bairstow and David Warner in the powerplay, Punjab Kings used the Indian opening pair - Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul - to do the same. Not only did they do it in sublime fashion, they got the franchise off to the best start possible at the venue, which allowed enough time for Chris Gayle to get himself ready for the occasion. Despite being 8 off 14 balls, Gayle took his time, made the fullest use of his experience and really slapped boundaries at his own merry. Perhaps, sides who have chased thus far haven’t quite understood the template on the surface. But now thrice in three games, teams have really made the fullest use of the conditions and chased well!
Mumbai should do away with Quinton de Kock
When it has worked last season, it was their best ever-opening pair but now it must stop, especially before Mumbai travel their way to Delhi, another venue that has had slow surfaces in action. Not just that, Quinton de Kock’s form has had a direct impact on the performances from the middle-order, who are constantly put under pressure. And de Kock’s numbers on spinning surfaces has been well below-par, which is one of the prime reasons that they should do away with him for the next set of games. In Delhi, which is Mumbai’s next venue, the Proteas star averages 24 with a strike rate of 120. If Mumbai indeed do away with him, they have a great chance of making the fullest use of their resources, picking either Chris Lynn or Jimmy Neesham in the setup, which would put the responsibility on Hardik Pandya to deliver as a batsman. Now having Neesham in the setup would work out in multiple ways, wouldn’t put too much pressure on Pollard or Pandya to go out and attack and will also give Rohit an incredible bowling option, on slow surfaces, where they could very utilise the right-hander’s cutters. For all those reasons, Mumbai should perhaps look at a new place to invest in, rather than insisting on de Kock-Rohit at the top.
MVP - Ravi Bishnoi
Being a leg-spinner is tough, being Ravi Bishnoi after last season, tougher! After being overlooked for the first four games of the season, Punjab Kings finally picked him and he made an instant impact, sending back Ishan Kishan. Not just that, in his second spell, he accounted for a well-set Suryakumar Yadav to take Punjab to a win. 2/21 off four overs, Bishnoi impressed one and all in Chennai.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Tacky-Tacky
Tacky-Tacky, Punjab! It is almost the last leg of the IPL in Chennai and what more do you expect? Pacy and quick wickets? You would be a fool to expect that from Chennai, it was always going to be slow, tacky and a struggle for the batsmen. It required great work from the batsmen, which was exactly what Rohit Sharma did, for his 52-ball 63. The second innings was all about Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, who combined to take Punjab home, only for the second time this season.