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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Explained: Do Mumbai Indians, IPL defending champs, have a weakness?

Mumbai Indians will finish their IPL 2020 campaign as the most consistent team of the tournament, with nine wins from 14 group league matches. Here's why they have been so dominant.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty , Edited by Explained Desk | Kolkata | November 7, 2020 1:52:01 pm
Mumbai Indians, Mumbai Indians IPL final, Mumbai Indians IPL 2020, MI IPL 2020, IPL final, Indian ExpressMumbai Indians have reached the IPL final, which will be played on November 10. (PTI Photo/Sportzpics for BCCI)

On Thursday (November 5), Mumbai Indians decimated Delhi Capitals to reach the IPL final. Irrespective of the result in the title showdown, they will finish their campaign as the most consistent team of the tournament, with nine wins from 14 group league matches. Here’s why MI have been so dominant.

How good is Mumbai Indians’ batting?

MI have arguably the most complete batting unit in the IPL. Opener Quinton de Kock has scored 483 runs from 15 matches.

They have two middle-order batsmen, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan, to feature in the list of the top 10 run-getters in the tournament. The only other middle-order batsman in that list is Virat Kohli.

Yadav has scored 461 runs from 15 matches, while Kishan has got 483 runs in 13 games. Both have a strike-rate north of 140.

Added to this is MI’s death overs batting firepower. In Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard they have the two finest finishers in T20 cricket. Pandya’s strike-rate this season is 182-plus. Pollard has been going at 190-plus.

MI’s match against DC in Qualifier 1 showcased the defending champions’ ability to turn things around with their death overs batting. After 17 overs, they were 145/5. Then Pandya scored a 14-ball 37 not out, and MI finished on 200/5.

What about Mumbai Indians’ bowling?

Together, Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult have accounted for 49 scalps in this IPL. Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar has chipped in with 15 wickets. Even backup seamer James Pattinson, who came into the squad as Lasith Malinga’s replacement, has taken 11 wickets in 10 matches.

No bowler in the MI team has a double-digit economy rate. The MI bowlers have made an impact in the Powerplays. In Qualifier 1, Boult’s double-wicket maiden sucked the life out of DC’s chase in the very first over.📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

Mumbai Indians, Mumbai Indians IPL final, Mumbai Indians IPL 2020, MI IPL 2020, IPL final, Indian Express Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the wicket of Daniel Sams of Delhi Capitals during the Qualifier 1 match at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (PTI Photo/Sportzpics)

How big has Bumrah’s impact been in IPL 2020?

A tally of 27 wickets in 14 matches at an economy rate of 6.71 is proof of his impact. He has accounted for 10 scalps in the last three matches, giving away just 45 runs. But more than the number of wickets he has taken, it has been about how Bumrah has impacted games with his contributions.

For example, in the return-leg fixture against Kings XI Punjab, he dismissed Mayank Agarwal upfront, got the better of a dangerous-looking Nicholas Pooran in the middle-overs, and castled K L Rahul at the death to take the game to the Super Over.

KXIP won the game in the Super Over all right, but Bumrah’s bowling had dragged things back for MI from a seemingly impossible situation.

In the matches where Bumrah went for runs, his team looked uncomfortable. MI’s return-leg match against Rajasthan Royals was a case in point, where Royals chased down 196 for victory.

Bumrah went wicketless in that game, conceding 38 runs off his four overs.

Also read | Rohit Sharma’s injury: How is fitness of BCCI-contracted cricketers monitored during IPL?

Mumbai Indians, Mumbai Indians IPL final, Mumbai Indians IPL 2020, MI IPL 2020, IPL final, Indian Express Surya Kumar Yadav of Mumbai Indians plays a shot in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. (PTI Photo/Sportzpics for BCCI)

What about MI’s auction strategy?

Certainly one of the reasons for MI’s success is stability. Nine players who had featured in last year’s final against Chennai Super Kings turned up to play for this year’s Qualifier 1 against DC.

The team management has a clear strategy: retaining the core group and bringing in players who can improve the team.

Last year, during the trading window, they brought in Boult from DC. MI management wanted an upgrade on an ageing Mitchell McClenaghan in the left-arm pace department. At the auction, MI spent Rs 11.1 crore to buy six players, out of which Rs 8 crore were forked out for Australian bowling allrounder Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Mumbai Indians, Mumbai Indians IPL final, Mumbai Indians IPL 2020, MI IPL 2020, IPL final, Indian Express Mumbai Indians (MI) players Rahul Chahar and Nathan Coulter-Nile celebrate after winning the match against Delhi Capitals during the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20, at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (PTI Photo/Sportzpics for BCCI)

So, do MI have any weakness at all?

Seemingly none.

But Rohit Sharma’s fitness and form look like they can be a concern. After missing four matches due to a reported hamstring injury, Rohit returned to lead the side, but got out cheaply against SRH, before being dismissed for a golden duck in Qualifier 1. Rohit, in fact, has six single-digit scores in 11 matches.

Coulter-Nile missed the first few matches of the tournament due to a side strain, and hasn’t quite hit his straps — having taken just three wickets from six matches, and with an economy rate of eight-plus.

Boult reportedly sustained a groin injury during Qualifier 1.

MI revel in dominating their opponents. It would be interesting to see how they react if their opponents in the final take the attack to them.

Ambati Rayudu for Chennai Super Kings in the tournament opener, and Ben Stokes and David Warner for Rajasthan Royals and SRH respectively in their return-leg fixtures managed to tame MI by launching counter-attacks.

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