It will be twice in a row that Mumbai Indians are up against a side in a similar position as them on the points table. It is a testament of this year’s IPL being closely fought in the first two weeks, where most teams have been equally competitive and none of them too much.
In their second win of the season, MI ticked most of the boxes that were ailing them. Both the spinners, Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya went for under seven runs an over and were among the wickets. In the 15 balls that Krunal bowled to the KXIP’s right-handers, he gave away only eight runs. Chahar took the prized scalps of KL Rahul and Glenn Maxwell.
Adding to their relief was the way Jasprit Bumrah bowled in his spell of 2/18. He set the tone in his first over, the fifth of the innings, when his awkward lengths broke KXIP’s momentum after a fluent start. The cherry on top was the dismissal of an in-form Mayank Agarwal.
On the other hand, Sunrisers Hyderabad achieved a hard-fought victory against CSK. With the names in their lower middle-order, even their hardcore fans would not have given them a sniff against a team like CSK after being 4/69 with all their international batsmen dismissed.
However, these mishaps are the opportunities presented for the lesser-known players to reap rewards of their hard work and become an overnight superstar. After getting involved in the run-out of the Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson, there was additional pressure on Priyam Garg. Opinions were flying among veteran cricket experts that he should have sacrificed his wicket instead. With a 26-ball 51, Garg played an innings that included some deft touches and remarkable power strokes. Thus, he vindicated his decision to preserve his wicket and delivered yet another reminder to the experts accustomed to calling the game before it is over.
CSK’s top-order struggles and the ingrained nature of their key batsmen to take the game late ensured SRH’s dominance with the ball. However, an injury to Bhuvneshwar Kumar resulted in some drama at the end and resulted in a nervy finish.
MI’s rough edges
The two most senior men in MI’s batting line-up have lived up to the billing so far. Despite him being one of the most successful T20 openers at the international stage, Rohit Sharma has not been at his dominant best for MI in all these years.
Defying records, in four matches so far, he has batted with an average of 42.5 and a strike-rate of 145.3. The last time he averaged above 40 in an IPL season was way back in 2016 (44.45). Moreover, MI have won both their games when he has scored runs at the top.
Even more impactful than Rohit has been Kieron Pollard. He has had a stellar 2020 so far where he averages 58.57 in T20s and has a strike-rate of 209.6. To MI’s advantage, he has carried his form in the IPL. So far he has just one dismissal against his name and has scored 138 runs at a rate of 212.3.
However, their performances have kept a lid on disappointing returns from Quinton de Kock. He started the campaign, breathing fire, with a breezy 20-ball 33 against CSK. However, in the three innings after that, he has scored 12 runs in 20 balls. Now, he finds himself among the struggling openers in the IPL so far.
Suryakumar Yadav has been a bank for Mumbai. He is only MI batsmen to score more than 1000 IPL runs since 2018. However, he has not adapted to UAE so far as well, scoring 74 runs at 18.5 in four innings.
While MI will expect their bowlers to get into a consistent performing mode, a contribution from de Kock and Surya will act as an adhesive to make them a tighter unit.
A Sharjah lift to Warner’s troubles?
This is David Warner’s sixth IPL season with SRH. In three of those, he ended with the Orange Cap. In 2020, he has failed to cross the half-century mark in four consecutive innings. The last time this happened was is 2016.
So far he has not been fluent. This is the first season after 2013 when he has a strike-rate of under 100 in the first 10 balls. However, Warner is not used to consecutive failures. A big score from him can be right around the corner. Given a high-scoring venue and small boundaries at Sharjah, MI would be wary of the Warner threat.
After his sizzling knock at Abu Dhabi against KXIP, Pollard mentioned that he is looking forward to Sharjah. Though he will play the situation and not the boundary. He would also know that a team with Rashid Khan in it will be more difficult to dominate than RCB and KXIP were.
Rashid has been one of the most economical bowlers in this IPL so far, going at five runs per over. The Tamil Nadu rookie T Natarajan has surprised everybody with his execution of the yorkers. Now, with runs from the young middle-order batsmen, SRH are looking stronger with each passing game. However, unavailability of Bhuvneshwar due to his groin injury might unsettle their attack a bit, but they still will have a team that can be MI’s toughest opponent in the tournament so far.
MI – Rohit Sharma ©, Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, James Pattinson, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
SRH – David Warner ©, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Sandeep Sharma, T Natarajan, Khaleel Ahmed