Mumbai’s fate is no more in their own hands

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safari
02 Oct 2021 | 02:58 PM
authorHardik Worah

Mumbai’s fate is no more in their own hands

Following their defeat to Delhi, the five-time champions will now also have to rely on other results to qualify for the playoffs

Mumbai Indians have looked a shadow of their former selves in the ongoing Indian Premier League. The five-time champions were taken down by Delhi Capitals in a low-scoring affair in Sharjah on Saturday (October 2) and will now also have to rely on other results to qualify for the playoffs. Rohit Sharma and Co. have lost four of their five encounters in the second leg of the tournament and now find themselves at No. 6 (NRR -0.453) on the points table. 

The defending champions have struggled in all facets of the game, especially in the second half and never looked in a commanding position despite stretching the game till the final over. "If your batters are not going to put runs on the board, it's going to be difficult to win games consistently. We have struggled with our batting this season, I personally accept that," said Rohit. Meanwhile, Delhi are now closing in on a top-two finish. Chasing 129, the last year’s finalist lot their top-order inside five overs but Shreyas Iyer (33-ball 33*) batted smartly and took Delhi over the line with five deliveries to spare.

Suryakumar finds some form

Considering how good he has been for the last few years, people now expect Suryakumar Yadav to deliver every time he comes out to bat. India have eight proper batters in their T20 World Cup squad and four of them are from the Mumbai franchise. Rohit Sharma (10-ball 7), who fell to Avesh Khan’s vicious bouncer, has always underperformed in the IPL but becomes a different beast altogether once he wears the “Indian” jersey. Meanwhile, Ishan Kishan has been so poor that he has been left out of the squad for two games in a row. Hardik Pandya slammed a 30-ball 40 against Punjab Kings but has managed only 72 runs in the remaining eight innings. However, the Indian team management will be happy with the fact that Suryakumar got some runs against a quality Delhi bowling line-up. 

The stylish right-hander came into this game on the back of scores of 0, 8, 5 and 3 and was desperate for some runs. The 31-year-old announced his arrival by slogging R Ashwin over deep mid-wicket on a surface which was on the slower side. He couldn’t really dominate Anrich Nortje, Avesh and Axar Patel, but managed to dominate Ashwin. Suryakumar got two more boundaries against the off-spinner and then lofted Kagiso Rabada for a massive six. Suryakumar (26-ball 33) got a decent start after a long time but failed to capitalise on it as he was dismissed by Axar in the 11th over. Mumbai still have at least two games to go and the Indian team management would want him to return to his best as soon as possible.

Nortje, Avesh, Axar continue to make impact 

Rabada and Ashwin are Delhi’s most experienced bowlers but it’s the trio of Nortje, Avesh and Axar who have been far more impressive. Nortje didn’t feature in the first half of the tournament but has been phenomenal in the second leg. The tearaway paceman from South Africa has taken six wickets in four innings at an economy of just 4.46. Even today, it was Nortje who got the key wicket of Kieron Pollard (6). The big man from West Indies, who has always struggled against severe pace, was undone by a superb slower delivery. Nortje might have got the big scalp, but it was Axar who dismissed three of the top-four batters - Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar and Saurabh Tiwary.

Amongst bowlers who have bowled at least 20 overs in the middle phase (7-15) of the innings in IPL 2021, Axar has the best average - 17.1. Axar also has the joint-best balls per boundary in middle overs in IPL 2021 - 18. The left-arm spinner is one of the best in the business when it comes to white-ball cricket and the only reason why there are some question marks raised over his selection for the T20 World Cup is because Ravindra Jadeja is also part of the squad. 

Axar has always been economical but has also been amongst wickets this season. The 27-year-old (3-21) was introduced into the attack straight after the powerplay and had de Kock (18-ball 19) caught at backward point. He then also accounted for Suryakumar and Tiwari (15) to break the back of Mumbai’s batting line-up, reducing them to 80/4. Axar bowled all of his four overs in the middle phase, in which he has economy of just 5.7 in IPL 2021.

There are only two bowlers who have picked up more than 20 wickets this season and both of them are yet to make their international debut. Harshal Patel has taken 26 wickets but has also leaked runs at an economy of 8.6. However, Avesh has been much more impactful (21 wickets at an economy of 7). The 24-year-old has already taken the most number of wickets by an Indian in a season in the history of the Delhi franchise. After bouncing out Rohit in his first over, Avesh knocked over Hardik and Nathan Coulter-Nile in his last over to finish with figures of 3-15. 

Delhi almost mess up a simple run-chase

The surface was two-paced but the Capitals wouldn't have expected that they would lose Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Steve Smith inside the powerplay. Dhawan was run-out, while Krunal Pandya pinned Shaw right in front of the stumps. The Capitals needed Smith to play his part but the No. 3 batter ended up getting knocked over by his Australian teammate Coulter-Nile (1-19). The onus was now on Rishabh Pant and Iyer to build a small partnership and it was the former who released some pressure by smoking a couple of boundaries.

He clobbered Krunal for a maximum on the second delivery he faced and then hit Jasprit Bumrah for two fours in an over. The Mumbai seamers bowled with great control but they simply didn’t have enough runs on the board. Mumbai’s go-to ploy of playing Jayant Yadav (1-31) didn’t work either as he and Krunal conceded 49 runs in 6.1 overs. Overall, Mumbai spinners have the worst average and economy rate in the second leg of the competition.

Pant perished after scoring 26 off 22 deliveries, while Axar (9) and Shimron Hetmyer (15) did make some handy contributions. Delhi still needed 37 runs off 41 balls when the sixth wickets fell and that's when Ashwin (20 not out) joined hands with Iyer and finished the job with utmost ease. Both Iyer and Ashwin never looked out of play and it was the latter who sealed the game with a maximum. 

"It was a low scoring game so I decided to stay till the end even though I was shifted lower down the order. I backed myself and backed my instincts. Whatever situation I'll be in, I knew I would win the game. When you think positive, everything turns out to be your way. He (Ashwin) came in and he was really positive. His intent was to take singles as much as possible and rotate the strike and that went till the last two overs. After that, he started seeing the ball really well and decided that he'll take on the bowlers," said Iyer after the game.

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Indian Premier League, 2021Mumbai IndiansDelhi CapitalsShreyas IyerSuryakumar Yadav

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