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Friday, October 30, 2020

IPL 2020: Mumbai overpower Delhi with all-round show

Synopsis: Slugger de Kock puts Dhawan’s glorious grind in perspective

Written by Sandip G | October 12, 2020 10:27:25 am
Quinton de Kock of Mumbai Indians plays a shot during match 27 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Capitals at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on the 11th October 2020. Photo by: Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for BCCI

The end was nervous, but otherwise Mumbai Indians out-muscled Delhi Capitals to climb atop the table. Once they restricted their opponents to 162, Rohit Sharma’s side was the odds-on favourite to win the battle of two bowling-heavy sides. Enabled by 53s from Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav, they were in charge of the game, but for the last three overs.

Slugger de Kock

In his adolescence, Quinton de Kock wanted to pursue baseball and even persuaded his father to migrate to the United States. But the senior de Kock didn’t budge and his son picked cricket, resulting in the emergence of the closest clone to Adam Gilchrist. It’s discernible that de Kock does have some baseball background, for few batsmen despatch the ball so furiously over midwicket as de Kock.

He goes deep in his crease, coils up all his energy into his hands and shovels the ball deep into the stands. There is no pretence of effortlessness, and one wonders how he generates such power. De Kock doesn’t have massive shoulders or bulged-out biceps, but strong wrists and transfers his weight into his strokes. Besides, like baseball sluggers, he opens the hips slightly to provide torque to hit the ball.

On a surface difficult for batting, the South African purred with the freedom of a sedan on an empty highway. There were no obstacles. Once he saw of his pal Kagiso Rabada, de Kock unleashed a carnage on the rest, including another compatriot Anrich Nortje, whom he punished for a brace of sixes. As significantly, he quelled the threat of Ravichandran Ashwin by clubbing him over mid-on, before sweeping him through square-leg. The left-hander’s charge ensured that Mumbai were not pushed to the back-foot despite losing Rohit Sharma cheaply. His 36-ball 53 loaded the chase with enough impetus for Mumbai to overhaul the target.

Dhawan’s (in)glorious grind

There are two distinct ways of looking at Shikhar Dhawan’s 52-ball 69. A) A hard grind, too slow by T20 yardsticks, which eventually cost Delhi Capitals the match. B) A mature knock, considering the sluggishness of the surface and efficiency of Mumbai Indians bowlers, thus furnishing his side a competitive total.

To elaborate the first point, he struggled for placement early in his innings. That he was far from fluent manifested on several instances, and it was his muscle that made up for the missing finesse. Some of his old failings kicked in — like falling over when trying to flick, getting into a tangle when trying to play the cut.

The other way to look at his effort is that he made all these runs despite the scratchiness and gave the stability that Delhi Capitals required. In fairness, Mumbai bowlers kept Dhawan and Co on a leash with stifling lengths and nasty lines. Against such an attack on a sluggish surface, it’s foolhardy to launch an all-out attack.

The plan clearly seemed to be Dhawan anchoring the innings and the bigger hitters prospering around him. The strategy could not be executed to perfection — Delhi kept losing wickets in those potentially break-free moments — but Dhawan ensured that the plan didn’t falter either. It might not have been the most spectacular of knocks, but in the circumstances, his runs were of immense value, though they fell short of helping his side to victory.

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