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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Surya rises to the challenge: Classy innings against RCB all but seals MI’s spot in playoffs

Chasing 165 for victory, MI got there with five balls to spare, effectively becoming the first team to reach the playoffs. With 16 points from 12 matches and a net run rate of +1.18, a top-four berth for MI is all but sealed.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Updated: October 29, 2020 8:39:00 am
iplSuryakumar Yadav reacts after hitting the winning runs against RCB (Twitter/RaviShastri)

A sublime half-century from Suryakumar Yadav (73 not out, 43 balls) helped Mumbai Indians secure a five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Chasing 165 for victory, MI got there with five balls to spare, effectively becoming the first team to reach the playoffs. With 16 points from 12 matches and a net run rate of +1.18, a top-four berth for MI is all but sealed. As for RCB, with 14 points from 12 matches, they would back themselves to qualify.

Surya’s sharp reply

With Rohit Sharma still nursing a hamstring injury, MI were once again bereft of their captain. RCB had posted a challenging total and the defending champions lost the in-form Quinton de Kock early in their chase. Ishan Kishan departed close on his heels. But Yadav, like he has done on many an occasion, stood up to be counted.

The maverick of Mumbai cricket revelled in his elegance. He hit a back-foot cover drive for a four. He hit a six over cover. He swept with arrogance. He played a ramp and then lap- swept a 140kph-plus delivery from Dale Steyn for a six. He flicked a Mohammed Siraj delivery to the deep backward square-leg boundary, with the fielder barely being able to move. Yadav was displaying 360 degrees batting with a touch of sheer class, something which former West Indies fast bowler-turned-commentator Ian Bishop compared with ‘an oil painting’.

In 12 matches so far this season, Yadav has scored 362 runs at a strike rate north of 155. Last season, he had scored 424 runs in 16 games during MI’s title-winning campaign. His first-class average is 44. The 30-year-old, however, hasn’t played for India in any format.

On Monday, when the Sunil Joshi-led national selection committee announced the Indian squads for the upcoming tour of Australia, they didn’t consider Yadav to be good enough. Today, in front of India captain Virat Kohli – there was some needling and stare-games between the two – Yadav gave a befitting reply to his omission.

Bumrah thwarts RCB

Jasprit Bumrah forced the RCB innings to go into a tailspin. After a 71-run opening partnership, they were looking good to post a 180-plus total, before the Mumbai Indians fast bowler intervened.

More than Bumrah’s figures – an outstanding 3/14 in four overs – it was the impact he made by taking those wickets at important moments. Kohli didn’t have a smooth start but was playing himself in. Bumrah in his second spell – he bowled just one over inside the Powerplay – dismissed the RCB captain with a short ball. The delivery was well directed, Kohli attempted a pull but got a top edge. Saurabh Tiwary took a smart catch moving backwards from mid-wicket.

Another bouncer accounted for Shivam Dube. The left-hander went after it, but was a little late. The catch went to Yadav at deep mid-wicket. Two balls later, a well-set Devdutt Padikkal was gone – a back-of-a-length ball cramped the left-hander for room and the flick went to Trent Boult at long leg. It was the 17th over of the RCB innings and Bumrah had a double-wicket maiden. Before that, Kohli’s wicket took him to 100 scalps in the IPL.

After 11 overs, RCB were 93/1. After the 17th, they had limped to 134/5. Thanks to Bumrah, MI wrested the initiative. Kieron Pollard removing AB de Villiers with a full-toss also played a part.

On a day when RCB’s batting superstars got out cheaply, Padikkal was anchoring the innings. The youngster is having a successful IPL. He doesn’t have a decisive trigger movement, which in a way allows him extra time to effectively manoeuvre spin in white-ball cricket. Padikkal has the gift of timing and the ability to pick the gaps. He punished the MI spinners. He targeted the cover region and bisected the fielders for his boundaries. His 45-ball 74 was still a very good effort.

Josh Philippe, in for Aaron Finch, too, played well for his 24-ball 33. The Aussie and Padikkal ensured that RCB had an excellent Powerplay – 54/0 – after losing the toss.

Brief scores: RCB 164/6 in 20 overs (D Padikkal 74, J Philippe 33; J Bumrah 3/14) lost to MI 166/5 in 19.1 overs (S Yadav 79*, I Kishan 25; M Siraj 2/28) by 5 wickets

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