Mumbai Indians booked a spot in Qualifier 2, with a thumping win over the Lucknow Super Giants. They bundled the KL Rahul-less Lucknow side out for 101, as they won the game by 81 runs. This seemed improbable a bit over six weeks ago, with most people, including fans, being extremely circumspect of their bowling attack.
"I had definitely thought of making it to the Qualifier 2. We managed our work, and scrambled through it," the MI skipper said.
After opting to bat first, MI got off to a flier in the powerplay. While they did lose both their openers, Cameron Green went after their spinners to ensure they were scoring in excess of 10 RPO at the end of the powerplay.
Outside Green's quickfire 41, important cameos from SKY, Tilak Varma, and Nehal Wadhera helped Mumbai post an above par 182.
In reply, LSG got off to a decent start themselves. The match seemed to be hanging in balance at the end of the powerplay, with LSG's scoreline reading 54/2.
Enter Akash Madhwal.
"Akash Madhwal was part of the season last year, but he didn't get to play. We knew what he had, and we needed somebody to bowl at the back end. Having seen him, I was confident that he could get the job done for us."
Since making his debut, he's taken 13 wickets in seven games, including a five-for in his maiden IPL playoffs game. He also took the crucial wicket of Nicholas Pooran, who got out for a golden duck. This also turned out to be the first five-for in a playoffs game.
His five-for is also tied with Anil Kumble for the record of the most miserly five wicket haul in IPL history.
If unearthing gems were an art, MI scouts are surely the Picassos of it.
"Talking about scouts, we have seen so many guys go on to play for India and do well. First and foremost, it's important to make them feel special and part of the team. They play lot of domestic cricket, but this is a different ball game."
"Our job is to make sure they are comfortable. As a team, we enjoyed the fielding. We want to keep getting better, and throw ourselves around. We knew coming to Chennai, one man won't take us through."
Krunal Pandya had no one else to blame but himself. From being 68/2 at the end of the eighth over, LSG were all-out for a paltry 101. The skipper's own dismissal was the trigger point.
"We were in a really good position. Everything started when I played that shot, that was not on and I completely take all the blame. The wicket was the same. We just had to bat better, and just take that responsibility. But, we didn't do that after the first time-out."
LSG saw their second season also end with a loss in the Eliminator, and Gautam Gambhir has every reason to be disappointed with this result. MI live to fight another day, as they head to Ahmedabad to take on the Gujarat Titans on Friday.