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regular-article-logo Friday, 21 June 2024

IPL 2021: Kings plot big win, MI struggle deepens

Mumbai Indians scored at a snail’s pace in the Powerplay getting just 21/1 and could stretch that to a mere 131/6 in 20 overs

Sudipto Gupta Calcutta Published 24.04.21, 01:50 AM
KL Rahul of Punjab Kings on way to his unbeaten 60 against Mumbai Indians on Friday

KL Rahul of Punjab Kings on way to his unbeaten 60 against Mumbai Indians on Friday PTI

There was no power in the Mumbai Indians’ Powerplay and that cost them the match against Punjab Kings in Chennai.

Mumbai, the reigning champions, have struggled with the bat this season and their total on Friday shrunk to the lowest in the five matches they have played so far. They scored at a snail’s pace in the Powerplay getting just 21/1 and could stretch that to a mere 131/6 in 20 overs.

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Defending such a score in a T20 game is like trying to fight a storm with a stick. But then stranger things have happened in cricket. With the Chennai pitch not really being a batsman’s paradise and Mumbai having one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament, there remained the possibility of a close contest.

However, Punjab, cornered by a hat-trick of losses, came out determined not to make a mess of the chase and won by nine wickets.

Captain KL Rahul (60 not out off 52 balls) and Mayank Agarwal (25 off 20 balls) did not miss out on the opportunities in the Powerplay overs, accumulating 45 runs without losing a wicket. Mayank’s picturesque six over extra cover off Krunal Pandya and Rahul swivelling on his legs to launch Jasprit Bumrah over the fine-leg boundary were statements of intent.

Mayank fell in the eighth over and thereafter, Mumbai briefly managed to drag back Punjab’s scoring rate, thanks to their spinners — Rahul Chahar and Jayant Yadav. From the eighth over till the completion of the 11th, Punjab could score only 11 runs.

But with the target not really tall, the asking rate never snowballed into an impossible number. Chris Gayle (43 not out off 35 balls) employed all the experience that over two decades of international cricket has fetched him and captain Rahul dropped anchor to guide Punjab to their second victory in five matches.

Once Gayle had got used to the pace of the pitch and the match, the mighty West Indian manoeuvred his shots masterfully.

Masterstroke

Punjab’s woes so far had been their questionable team selection and lack of innovation. They rectified both on Friday by bringing in last year’s success leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi into the team and by outthinking Mumbai with the ball.

It was a masterstroke from Punjab to start their bowling with Moises Henriques and Deepak Hooda, two of their weaker bowlers. The move paid off remarkably.

Mumbai, it seemed, were not expecting that, did not know how to handle the two and slipped into a coma of sorts with runs hardlycoming.

The figures of the two part-time bowlers in the Powerplay overs were stunning — Henriques 3-0-12-0, Hooda 2-0-5-1.

Punjab’s bowling effort was further boosted by Bishnoi (2/21), who quite inexplicably did not find a place in the XI in the last four matches. The young spinner is difficult to score against because of his swift action, discipline and well-disguised variations.

Batting woes

What ails Mumbai’s batting? It’s difficult to point out. There’s no dearth of quality, but Quinton de Kock (3), Ishan Kishan (6), Hardik Pandya (1) and even Kieron Pollard (16 not out) to some extent have not been their usual selves this time.

Mumbai would do well to tweak their line-up a bit to shake things up in the next couple of games.

Had it not been for Rohit Sharma’s captain-esque 63 off 52 balls and Suryakumar Yadav’s 33 off 27 balls, Mumbai’s total would have been even lower.

Pitch report

⚫ Best strike rate (30 or more runs): 122. 85 Chris Gayle (PBKS)

⚫ Most fours: 5 Rohit (MI), Gayle (PBKS)

⚫ Most sixes: 3 KL Rahul (PBKS)

⚫ Best partnership: 79 Suryakumar/ Rohit (MI);KL Rahul/ Gayle (PBKS)

⚫ Most dot balls: 16 Jayant Yadav (MI)

⚫ Most fours conceded: 4 Krunal Pandya (MI)

⚫ Most sixes conceded: 2 Arshdeep Singh (PBKS); Trent Boult (MI)

⚫Man of the Match: 60 not out off 52 ballsKL Rahul (PBKS)

Quick single

Mumbai’s Powerplay score of 21/1 on Friday was their second lowest in the IPL. Their lowest came against the same opponents (then Kings XI Punjab) — 17/3 in Mumbai in 2015.

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