The side has all bases covered — fearless top-order batsmen, destructive finishers, match-winning quicks, crafty spinners and a tactically astute captain
With a dominant IPL title run, Mumbai Indians laid the blueprint for Twenty20 success. Save for a couple of role players, the team was packed with pure match-winners. Every department — batting, bowling, fielding and backroom tacticians — oozed quality, making it tough to spot and exploit even a single weakness.
The top-order — consisting of Quinton de Kock (503 runs), Ishan Kishan (516 runs) and Suryakumar Yadav (480 runs) — bagged five man-of-the-match awards among them. Skipper Rohit Sharma came to the party when it mattered with a crucial 51-ball 68 in the final against Delhi Capitals.
The finishers — Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya — smashed their way to tournament strike-rates of 191.42 and 178.98 respectively. Their destructive force was best demonstrated in an unbroken 23-ball, 67-run stand which simply flattened Kings XI Punjab.
Deadly with the new ball
With devastating new-ball spells, Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah regularly put the contest to bed inside the PowerPlay. Bumrah and Boult ended the campaign as the second- and third-highest wicket-takers of the tournament respectively, behind DC’s Kagiso Rabada. Boult finished with three man-of-the-match trophies — the most for a bowler in the competition.
To complete the already impressive package, Rohit proved to be a shrewd leader, and the coaching staff — led by head coach Mahela Jayawardene — ensured that the team entered the field armed with the right tactics.
MI, the well-oiled machine, was built to operate at peak efficiency.
CSK falters badly
Another traditionally strong side, Chennai Super Kings, faltered badly. The CSK batsmen — Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav and captain M.S. Dhoni — often meandered along, putting far too much pressure on the others. Faf du Plessis was the exception to this drudgery, but he was left with too heavy a burden to bear. Only a complete overhaul can redeem the three-time champion’s mighty reputation.
While CSK was never in contention, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab only narrowly missed out. KKR lost out on a playoff spot to Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore because of net run rate — a cruel way to exit.
KXIP, two short of the magic 14-point mark, will rue missing out on a couple of close encounters. With the team needing one run off three balls against DC, Mayank Agarwal, after an exceptional innings, could not finish the job, resulting in a Super Over loss. Against KKR, Glenn Maxwell’s last-ball hit landed just inches inside the fence. A six would have resulted in a Super Over and, perhaps, a victory and a playoff spot.
Reality check for RCB
For RCB, it was an all too familiar script of underachievement. A great start to the campaign raised hopes of a maiden IPL title win, but a four-match losing streak to end the league stage, followed by a defeat to SRH in the Eliminator came as a rude reality check. RCB captain Virat Kohli’s repeated failures, compared to Rohit’s record-breaking five titles, have led to suggestions that Rohit is better suited to lead the Indian limited-overs teams.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the tournament was that all players, support staff and officials returned to their homes safe and healthy. The organisers deserve high praise for successfully pulling off a mighty effort in these testing times.