After losing the toss, CSK had to rely on several cameos, from Faf du Plessis to Ambati Rayudu to take them to a mighty total of 218 runs after their 20 overs. However, as fate had it, the total wasn’t enough, with Kieron Pollard throwing the wall down, with a 34-ball 87 to pull off a heist for MI.
Where Mumbai won the game
Kieron Pollard isn’t a man, he is the machine, one that has seemingly been invented to destroy Chennai Super Kings. Every time he walks out to bowl, field or bat, the Men in Yellow struggle to find their feet and more times and not, struggle to find the ball, which travels to and fro to several orbits. 54 runs off 18 deliveries, three boundaries and six sixes, in the overs from 12-15, changed the proceedings and in turn, gave Mumbai an unlikely win.
Moeen Ali at No.3, a perfect template for Chennai
Last season, Chennai fielded Ambati Rayudu, at No.3, a position where he averaged 31.5 runs while striking it at 121.2. However, that didn’t quite help the three-time champions, who found themselves suffering post the powerplay, with the middle-order not being able to take forward the momentum from their openers. But this season, Chennai went out of the box, they not only picked up RCB’s flop, Moeen Ali but gave him an important role in their 2021 batting setup. What exactly did they do? Promote him to No.3, a position where he has played a lot of T20 cricket albeit it being in England. In 15 encounters, at No.3, the all-rounder has scored 475 runs off 315 balls, averaging 43.2 and striking it at 150.8. While the dot ball percentage has been high before this IPL stint, the confidence and the freedom that the franchise has provided him, he has taken it into his side. Thus far, this season in six games, the left-handed batsman has scored 190 runs off 125 deliveries and is increasing his tally, as we talk about it. More importantly, it has come at a strike rate of 148.78, which has allowed the others - Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Sam Curran - to go all-out.
Suresh Raina’s kingdom has fallen
Having made his debut in 2008, Suresh Raina struck an immediate chord with the three-time IPL champions, Chennai Super Kings. The Uttar Pradesh batsman was also fondly called ‘Chinna Thala’ in the franchise’s glorious run till 2019. But the unthinkable happened in the year that followed, the southpaw had pulled himself out of the cash-rich league in the eleventh hour, to leave the franchise in a position of distraught. Until then, Raina had scored 300 runs in every one of the IPL seasons he had played, occupying the No.3 position in the Yellow-outfit. With Chennai missing him in the 2020 season, they had a different plan in place, promoting the English all-rounder at No.3. That came at a cost, Raina’s form took a beating, with just 125 runs in this season from seven games, at an average of 24.6 with an under-par strike rate of 126.8. Raina at No.4, Rayudu at No.5, the franchise have seriously put themselves under a lot of pressure and trouble, owing to the southpaw’s lack of power. Not just that, since 2015, Raina has never had a season where he played 40% of his deliveries as dot-balls. However, this season, he has played 46.4% of his deliveries as dots, which would force the franchise to reconsider their decision, meaning that Raina’s kingdom has indeed fallen!
Rohit Sharma needs to up the ante
250 runs at an average of 35.7 always look pleasing, right? But that’s where the statistics are often misleading when we read only one part of it. In the powerplay, the Mumbai Indians’ skipper Rohit Sharma has scored 153 runs off 120 deliveries, at an average of 76.5 but with a strike rate of just 127.5, which reduces drastically after the powerplay to 119.6 with the average reading just 18.3. Now that’s where the issue lies for Mumbai - their middle-order - is struggling not for runs but in an attempt to increase the strike rate. The five-time champions, this season, have only scored 472 runs in the middle phase of the innings, at a strike rate of 126.54, fourth-best in the tournament. For a team that had one of the best middle-order outfits last year, Rohit’s form at the top of the order is costing the franchise a quick start. And that in turn is affecting how they are finishing games in comparison to how they start the innings.
Playing Krunal Pandya as a pure batsman is criminal
Let’s put it this way - Mumbai Indians have Krunal and Hardik Pandya - two of their match-winners in the playing XI but as just batsmen. Now that’s how it has functioned in a few games this season, at least with Krunal Pandya. But that’s where the problem exists - the elder of the Pandya brothers isn’t a pure batsman. Thus far, this season, the left-handed batsman has just scored 78 runs off 64 deliveries, averaging 39 but all of it coming at a strike rate of 121.9. More than that, him playing as a pure batsman takes away a lot of firepower from the Mumbai setup, especially considering how they have batted in the powerplay. Especially after Rohit Sharma’s dismissal, the southpaw walked in and was on four off eight deliveries. Later on, he scored a six but his batting ensured that Kieron Pollard had to take the major part of the risk on the night. So for whichever reason Mumbai are insisting on Krunal instead of Ishan Kishan, it should stop!
MVP - Kieron Pollard
The man did it all. Bowled two crucial overs, picked up two amazing wickets and when he came out to bat, he just smashed Chennai out of the ground. Power, absolute power from the Caribbean man. When Pollard walked out to bat, at 81/3, Mumbai were in deep trouble and when he walked back to the dressing room, he lifted his helmet, flexed his muscles and tore the Chennai bowlers down out of the ground. 87 off 34 balls, two wickets and what more do you want from your premier all-rounder. He single-handedly put any doubt that remained underground.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Batting-Kotla
Delhi Capitals must be distraught, ask me why? For the many years that they have played at this venue, the pitch has been a terrible one, where runs have never been on offer. Forget that, it had been sluggish, slow and bad optics for the IPL. But this season, like Chennai’s form, it has turned out to be an eye-pleaser. Every game has been blessed with runs, boundaries, sixes and perfectly laid wickets for batsmen. Today was yet another one on display, which is why it should be called the new Batting-Kotla. And then there was Kieron Pollard, who hated to land deliveries inside the stadium. He just landed them outside.