2 Oct 2020

Power packed Mumbai pounce on brain-faded Punjab!

By cricinsane

Cricket is indeed such a beautiful and much revered game for a good reason! If the classical form of cricket emulates character, grit and persistence from the players, then the modern T20 format tests their adaptability and accuracy to greater extent. It opens so many dimensions amongst players and time and again it teaches some important life intervals. What goes up has to come down and that’s the law of nature. When going gets tough in life, we just hold up a bit further to see ourselves in a better position and so does the teams and players experience when they produce a thumping comeback. Rightly to warrant that emotion, the Mumbai Indians produced an outstanding display of cricket with both bat and ball to stump the Kings XI Punjab and made their mark strongly as the tournament turned the heat on.

Within 13 days of play, the 13th edition of IPL had seen each team beating every other team proving that nobody is still the boss yet! But also to keep in mind that the upcoming week would feature some serious gameplays as teams would battle out in the race of climbing to the top of the table. While the dream teams do it in this manner, there would be a set of bottlers who simply flush down their winning momentum into drains and keep scrounging in the bottom half. This match against Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab would be the ideal starter for such turnarounds. With the new captain KL Rahul winning the toss and putting MI to bat first, it was very evident even before the play that Mumbai would comfortably walk off with 2 points home. The Punjab seamers used the shining whiteball well as Sheldon ‘Marching’ Cottrell made the cute looking QDK distressed with his beautiful outswinger. Soon Suryakumar Yadav was caught short off the crease by Shami’s bullet throw and by the end of power play the game was evenly poised. However, their main man was still at the crease and he decided to take things on himself. He stitched a magnificent partnership with Ishan Kishan who was in simmering form the other night against RCB. Hitman Rohit ended up thrashing the so called 4th and 5th bowler of KXIP and to rub more salt to the wound came in SKY-RON Pollard. Indeed he was rocketing the ball into the sky and out of the ground. Rohit scored 70 before getting out and the finisher pair of Pollard and Pandya had the full license to maul the KXIP bowling lineup. It was the second time that Mumbai managed to score 89 runs in the last 5 overs getting them from 129/4 in 17 overs to 191/4 in 20 overs. 

If credits had to be given to the MI batsman for batting fearlessly in the Abu Dhabi ground, KXIP bowlers and captaincy had to be slammed equally. Rahul completely failed to understand the dimensions of the ground and conditions prevailing around. Firstly, Rahul should have studied about MI (especially Rohit’s) threat to spin in the powerplay and should have employed him wisely in the powerplay. Rather they did an absolute brain fade by exhausting Sheldon Cottrell within the middle overs leaving nobody for the death. It’s always MI’s top order and lower middle order who are known for power hitting and the opponents should have their best bowlers operating at those intervals. Middle order players like SKY and Kishan are not huge power hitters and they can be countered with part timers like Neesham. Bishnoi bowled great lines but he wasn’t partnered at the other end. Secondly, while facing a team like MI, the opponents should have at least 5 + 1 efficient part time bowler. MI never give up quickly and capitulate on every single opportunity they get. But Rahul went with just 5 bowlers out of whom only 3 of them were commendable and Neesham could never be seen as a bowler who could bowl 4 overs. Forgiving these 2 blunders, Rahul committed an absolute crime by making Gowtham and Neesham bowl in the death against Pollard and Hardik. Pollard would be the happiest man with that decision and he thrashed Gowtham for 4 sixes in the 20th over. How even such a move could be made? If they were always short of an extra bowler, they should have rotated their bowlers well and got their best guns in an impending situation.

A pumped up MI order came against the entire KXIP batting which was just compartmentalized between two players – Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul. They were off to a flyer and whenever MI foresee a crisis, they call their Hulk to SMASH things. 1 over, 1 run and 1 wicket. That was the spell by Jasprit Bumrah who built the check dams to close off Mayank. Karun Nair was pathetic as he bagged another duck and never looked like he would be playing anymore in the tournament. By the end of 8th over, Rahul was also sent back to the dugout and curtains for Punjab. Then they had two seemingly misfiring batsmen in the middle. Pooran somehow tried to connect a few and upped the ante a bit by scoring a quickfire 44 off 27. But Maxwell was totally an outlier. He swayed and swung and rocked and jumped but never hit the ball. He was consuming the deliveries and feeding fire to the run rate. If this is what Maxwell can provide, then he would soon be chucked out from the team. Chris Gayle had to be brought in big time to atleast salvage some pride. Sarfaraz tried too hard for his single digit score and so did Neesham. They have to revamp their players and get their combinations right rather than experimenting much. If Karun Nair is not willing to get off the muk, get him out of the team and bring in Mandeep Singh. He can still prove worthy at the lower middle order. When Murugan Ashwin was reaping rewards for them, it was not of any use to bring in Gowtham ahead. Also KXIP lack Indian fast bowling options. If they plan to bring in players like Mujeeb to strengthen their spin core, then he should force out Cottrell or Neesham making them even more short of a pace attack. Just like how other teams are fostering their U19 talents, KXIP can bring in the speedster Ishan Porel to stabilize the sinking ship. Sarfraz can be altered with Prabhsimran Singh too. All in all, with multiple choices leaving the captain and coach scratching their head, they lost valuable two points and stumbled badly with their net run rate with the huge loss.