Why regret the past, if you could focus on the present, and probably make your future better! The 22-6 scoreline is the past. A thumping seven-wicket win is the present. And, a spot in the playoffs could be the future. The rivalry between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders has been one of the most one-sided affairs in the history of any sport, but the numbers don’t matter much once you step onto the field. Having won just one of their last 12 encounters against Mumbai, the odds were not in the favour of Kolkata but Eoin Morgan and Co. looked almost untouchable on Thursday (September 23).
The Knight Riders forced Mumbai into submission in Abu Dhabi and jumped to the fourth spot in the points table of the Indian Premier League 2021. Morgan and his men are on a roll at the moment. They first decimated Bangalore in their first game of the second leg and have now smashed Mumbai by seven wickets and 29 deliveries to spare. Mumbai did dominate the powerplay with the bat but Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine brought Kolkata in the game before Venkatesh Iyer and Rahul Tripathi went berserk in the second innings.
Kolkata's McCullum-esque approach
"There were times throughout the season when I just felt we were being paralysed a little bit by fear. Hopefully, we will be able to strip away a bit of the angst which had built up in the first part of the season, just go out there and try and enjoy ourselves. That's the ambition that I have got for the franchise and hence why I am unapologetic and unrelenting in my belief that we need to play a braver style of play," said KKR head coach Brendon McCullum before the start of the second half of IPL 2021, and his players haven't disappointed so far.
To put things in perspective, Kolkata have slammed 253 runs in 25.1 overs in their last two encounters. They restricted Bangalore to 92 on Monday and then chased it down in just 10 overs. Tonight, they hunted down Mumba’s target of 156 in 15.1 overs, which tells you a lot about their approach. It seems like Kolkata are finally getting used to McCullum and Morgan’s brand of cricket and have already started creating chaos in the points table. Then there is Iyer who has changed the dynamics of the team in just two matches.
The opener from Madhya Pradesh has given Kolkata that much-needed boost up the order, which they clearly lacked in the first leg of the tournament. The Knight Riders had the third-worst scoring rate (7.4) in the powerplay in the first half but that number has gone up to 9.9 in their last two matches. Iyer, who refused an offer from an accounting firm Deloitte in Bangalore, smacked 41* on his debut against Virat Kohli’s men and then followed it up with a stroke-filled 30-ball 53 against Mumbai. The left-hander has been ruthless against both pace and spin and hasn’t been bothered by any length.
Kolkata messed up a simple 153-run chase against Mumbai earlier this year but Iyer and Tripathi didn’t give their opponent an inch to make a comeback. Iyer clobbered four fours and three sixes, while Tripathi blasted eight fours and three maximums. The two put on 88 runs in 8.4 overs and didn’t allow any bowler to settle in. It all started with Shubman Gill and Iyer smashing Trent Boult for a six each in the first over before the latter whacked Adam Milne for 15 runs in the second over to make Kolkata’s intentions very clear. Rohit tried everything but these two kept the attack going and it didn’t take much time before shoulders started dropping in Mumbai’s camp. Iyer became one of Jasprit Bumrah’s three victims but Tripathi only left the field once the job was done.
Smartly handled powerplay
The only thing that went in Mumbai’s favour was their opening partnership. Rohit and Quinton de Kock were quite smart with their approach in the first six overs. The Mumbai captain has operated at a strike rate of 116.47 against seamers and 154.29 against spinners in the powerplay this season, while the corresponding numbers for de Kock are 139.6 and 42.86. Yes, you read it right. However, the two didn’t allow the Kolkata bowlers to pounce on their respective weaknesses as Rohit took care of the spinners and de Kock went after the pacers.
Nitish Rana, Chakravarthy and Narine bowled the first four overs and de Kock faced only eight deliveries in that period. It was Rohit who did all the scoring as he managed 22 off 16 balls in the first four overs. In the process, Rohit also became the first batsman in IPL to score 1000 runs against a team. Eoin Morgan then got Lockie Ferguson and Prasidh Krishna for the final two overs and that’s when de Kock took over. The South African wicketkeeper-batter smoked three maximums in the space of two overs and helped Mumbai cross the 50-run mark.
Suryakumar, Kishan’s form is hurting Mumbai
In IPL 2021, the five-time champions haven’t been at their best in the middle and death overs and it’s because most of their middle-order batters haven’t been amongst runs. Kieron Pollard has been consistent with his fiery cameos and tonight was no different, slamming 21 off 15. The big man from West Indies played his part but the same can’t be said for Suryakumar and Kishan. The two batters were phenomenal in the last edition of IPL but haven’t been able to dictate terms this season.
The duo has been inconsistent against both pace and spin and their lack of form is hurting Mumbai big time. Rohit’s men (7.6) have the third-worst scoring rate in the middle overs (7-15) after Hyderabad (6.8) and Bangalore (7) in this edition. On top of that, they also have the third-worst balls per wicket (21.1) and balls per boundary (7.8) ratio. The defending champions scored 56 runs in the powerplay but lost all the momentum in the middle overs. They lost three wickets in that phase and operated at just 5.6 runs per over, which eventually led to their downfall.