Played under the COVID-19 shadow, the Indian Premier League’s bio-bubble season acquired a heartening monotony. But for a minor scare of a few positive cases early in the tournament, it adhered to a strict pandemic protocol to live up to its reputation of being a mass entertainer and became an exemplary unlockdown case study. Long periods of quarantine for players failed to dilute the intensity of a tournament that has a thrill-a-minute reputation. Empty stands didn’t come in the way of Season 13 going on to break TV viewership records. Even the economic slowdown seemed to be no hurdle for sponsors queuing up to get on the IPL bandwagon. The new normal did not change the old order. And befittingly enough, like it has happened so often, Mumbai Indians finished as the winners. In these unusual times, on the cricket field, it was business as usual.
Mumbai Indians owe their success as much to individual brilliance as to a collective effort. No other team boasts such a dazzling galaxy of stars. There was a time when Mumbai Indians used to splash money recklessly in the auction. But now, every acquisition is carefully weighed. They have arguably the best leader, Rohit Sharma, the most-consistent middle order and the deadliest bowling pair ever. Two of their recruits this season, Quinton de Kock and Trent Boult, have been the envy of most teams. The South African was their highest run-getter and Boult their second-highest wicket-taker, and the man of the match in both their knockout games. Such is the depth of this side that it has many match-winners but no one who is indispensable.
The Mumbai Indians’ march to their fifth title has been their most assertive ever. Like in the final against Delhi Capitals, they strolled through the tournament with consummate ease. They are now the gold standard of success in any cricket league across the world, the first such side in a sport that’s still getting accustomed to the franchise concept. Mumbai Indians have torn apart the template designed by the erstwhile most-celebrated IPL team, Chennai Super Kings, and redrawn a golden blueprint of their own. For a world in panic mode for most of this year, Mumbai Indians ensured that at least cricket watching remained stress-free. In a welcome respite during these uncertain times, this IPL season’s most consistent side managed to de-couple unpredictability from cricket.
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