Call it coincidence, call it destiny. Mumbai Indians losing their IPL opener is a must, as Star Sports say “Yeh Ab Normal Hai”. Countless times have we seen Mumbai’s skipper Rohit Sharma and his men lose out their season opener from a strong point. Yesterday was no different from that. Rishabh Pant won the toss and decided to chase. After a rampaging start that had a fair share of highs and lows, Mumbai riding on Ishan Kishan’s 81* posted a competitive total of 177. Delhi started off very well, with Tim Seifert looking pretty fluent with the bat. A couple of mistimed shots quickly reduced them from 30/0 to 32/3. Then came Lord Thakur, who looked absolutely pristine timing the ball so well that you can easily mistake him for a veteran batting legend. Alas, all good things come to an end and so did Shardul’s worthwhile cameo. Delhi needed 74 runs from 40 balls with just 4 wickets in hand, and a certain duo took just 30 balls to chase down an improbable score. A series of twisters is the best way to define this match, but then again which IPL match isn’t? Remember the line #YehAbhiNormalHai. So, without any delay let’s explore the 5 facts which made the match alive.
5. Death Over woes for both sides.
Death Overs are the instrumental part of innings for both batting and bowling units. The overs from 16th to 20th often decide the way the match would go. Teams specifically target and slot their power-hitters to maximize the chances of them playing in the death. While it depends on the situation, teams mostly go all-out in the death to give that last burst to set the score. Inspired by a certain ‘finisher’, every team except Chennai spends big for pinch hitters in the auction. The increasing importance of pinch hitters has also increased the stocks of a death bowler. The harder the challenge, the better the reward they say. That sums up the importance of a death-bowler. Unfortunately, death bowlers are made through experience and money just can’t buy you a reliable man.
While both teams displayed splendid batting displays, there were equally poor bowling and fielding displays. Mumbai made 59 runs in their last five overs while Delhi had 57, with 10 balls to spare. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Daniel Sams, Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel were slammed out of the park. The utter dominance of batters made this contest into a hitter’s match.
4. Leg-Spinners get the kudos.
Both Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals went into this match with a leg-spinner each. The turning pitch of Brabourne did its job and leg-spinners were just untouchable in the match. Both Kuldeep Yadav (Delhi) and Murugan Ashwin (Mumbai) spun their trap webs and were the most successful and economic bowlers for their sides. Kuldeep’s figures read 4-0-18-3, while Murugan had 4-0-14-2. Murugan also balled a stunner which captivated Tim Seifert who looked ready to slaughter. Kuldeep’s clever change of pace caught the likes of Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma unguarded and both mistimed their shots by a mile.
3. Strong Opening from both batting units.
Both Mumbai and Delhi had strong starts which they failed to capitalize on, Mumbai especially would take it to their heart. With a relatively newer squad with a combined experience lesser than that of Rohit and Pollard combined, Mumbai completely banked on their openers Ishan and Rohit to provide them with a strong stable start and leave the death for heavy-hitting Pollard. But plans are made to fail. Kuldeep Yadav out-foxed a flight, which Rohit Sharma struggled to time and had to return to the pavilion. Nevertheless, it was a confident batting display from the skipper. The debutant Anmolpreet Singh failed to make an impact, but the next man Tilak Varma had a respectable start. His free-flowing wrists would surely keep him in the Mumbai dugout for a long time.
On the other hand, Fielder of the day, Tim Seifert was playing with the elegance that befits a queen. The timing, the shot selection, and the intent were all on the mark. But a single pull, made his short and beautiful innings come to an end. Prithvi Shaw on the other end looked raw but resolved. He struggled to time a few balls, but when he did time them, he made them big, very big. After a series of ‘accidents’, came Shardul Thakur. What a player! Shardul could have been DC’s best bet and he did deliver to an extent. A full-fledged cameo of 22 from 11 balls, contained four world-class 4’s, which included a flick, which even Virat Kohli would be jealous of.
2. The partnerships which built the innings.
Mumbai obviously banked on their captain and their expensive signing, Ishan Kishan to deliver and they did. The 67-run stand between them was a key factor for MI. Delhi had their match-winning partnership at the other end of the match. Axar Patel combined hands with Lalit Yadav to deliver a coup de grace to Mumbai. A truly sensational hitting from Axar saw the likes of Lalit Yadav step-up and contribute. The duo together racked in 75 runs in just 30 balls to seal the encounter.
1. The New Set-up worries.
Mumbai has been one of the franchises that have retained its core through retention and auctions. Retaining Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Jasprit Bumrah, and Suryakumar Yadav, then spending big on Ishan Kishan surely damaged their wallet. As a result, MI couldn’t bring in the player they would have liked and had to settle for alternates. The majority of Mumbai’s line-up yesterday is thoroughly inexperienced and Mumbai would be eagerly waiting for the return of Suryakumar, who can relieve pressure from the openers.
Delhi retained their core as well, retaining Shaw, Nortje, Axar Patel, and captain Rishabh Pant. The difference was they decided to let go of Shreyas Iyer, who was going for big bucks and this decision alone let them have other players who were more experienced than those of Mumbai-buys. In fact, letting Iyer go helped Delhi bring in Shardul Thakur.
While these are still early days, it is safe to say Mumbai would find it difficult to compete for a trophy this season. A squad that young needs sufficient time to grow, and who better to guide than the National captain Rohit Sharma. They would look to rebuild and compete for the trophy next season with a confident side, which would also include the likes of Jofra Archer by then. Delhi on the other hand is title-favourites. With the return of Anrich Nortje, all is settled for Delhi. A squad led by the dynamism of Rishabh Pant and a squad led by tactician Rohit are really treating to watch. While we can judge Mumbai all we want, don’t be so sure. You just can’t lead a team to five IPL glories unless you have makings of a leader. Hitman is capable of comebacks. Also, the lack of big names doesn’t mean Mumbai’s just a pushover, as they say, #GameBanayegaName, you don’t know who’s the next Rohit Sharma or the next Suryakumar Yadav.