Right, so the City of Joy finally made its debut in 2020 edition of the cash-rich league, against the City that Never Sleeps. KKR hasn’t had a particularly successful history against the Mumbai Indians in IPL, having won only once against Rohit’s men in the past 5 years. Karthik was eager to settle the score and he made that evident in his pre-match conference. Mumbai was still hurting from their loss against arch-rivals CSK; however, they decided to go in with an unchanged team. It is so typical of Rohit Sharma, the leader to keep trust in his team irrespective of the results.

KKR’s first eleven was evident from their squad structure. The only question was whether, they will be playing the extra batsman at 7 or, bat Cummins at 7 and play the extra bowler. They decided to go in with a conservative approach of keeping the extra batsman, at least at the beginning of the season. However, there was another surprise sprung by KKR. Prasidh Krishna, who has impressed quite a bit in the previous edition, was looked over for the domestic veteran Sandip Warrier in the playing 11.

 MI began on a positive note, except losing De Kock at the top of the order. Shivam Mavi stood out for KKR, from the first ball he bowled. He has been in and out of the squad, because of injuries in the past edition but the consistency in pace, line, and length that he demonstrated from the powerplay overs itself, kept a batsman of the stature of Rohit Sharma quiet as well. He will be an asset for this team going forward both in the powerplay and in the death. Warrier, on the other hand, could not find the natural outswing on the flat dry pitch and sprayed his length all over the place to concede 24 off his first 2 overs.

Surya Kumar Yadav of Mumbai Indians
Surya Kumar Yadav of Mumbai Indians 

Both Rohit Sharma and Surya Kumar Yadav were looking in fantastic touch and were going at 10 per over, when a freakish brilliance from Narine and Morgan accounted for their ex KKR teammate in the 11th over, through a runout.

After Surya’s wicket, Rohit and Saurabh forged an excellent partnership before Saurabh was dismissed by an excellent carrom ball from Narine. The focus was on Narine, as he was returning on the back of a fabulous CPL and there were talks of the old Narine coming to being. The first thing that caught your eye was the speed at which he was bowling. He was able to generate speeds in the range of 90-95 kmph for the first time since the remodeling of his action.  He bowled an excellent spell, conceding just 22 from his 4 overs, picking up the prized scalp of Saurabh Tiwary. That’s a mind-boggling achievement in a match, where the opposition scored at 10 runs per over.

There will be a lot of questions raised over Pat Cummins tonight, primarily because of his price tag. However, I think the high price tag is not the Australian’s fault at all. He went the distance this match, primarily because of bowling the Australian line and length on the dry Dubai pitch. Australian pitches are hard and are friendly towards bowlers willing to exploit the short ball ploy. Unfortunately, in the sand-based pitches of Dubai, the short ball of Cummins just sat up to be parried over the boundary.

Rohit scored a fabulous 80 off 54 deliveries to anchor the innings for MI. He was dismissed by the increasingly impressive Mavi in the 18th over and that ensured that MI’s score would be pulled back by at least 15-20 runs. Hardik encountered an insane hit wicket against Russell and some good economical bowling from Russell and Mavi ensured that MI was restricted below the 200 run mark. Russell played an extremely important role for KKR with his bowling as he ensured that both Warrier and Cummins did not need to finish their quota of 4 overs, saving KKR from chasing at least 10-15 runs more.

MI bowled brilliantly in the second essay. There is no second thought about it. There is way too much quality in the MI bowling line up and tonight each one of them was on song. Last night, because of the exquisite stroke play from both Du Plessis and Rayudu, Boult and Pattinson looked ineffective. However, both of them were on song today against the inexperienced opening pair of KKR. MI also solved the void created in their bowling arsenal due to Hardik’s absence, by bowling Pollard, who returned fabulous figures of 1 for 21 from his 3 overs.

Mumbai Indians players celebrates the wicket of Shubman Gill of Kolkata Knight Riders

As a result, MI filled all the gaps on the field, that were visible in their last match against CSK. KKR never looked to be in the chase, to begin with. We all kept on waiting for that whirlwind innings first from Gill, then from Karthik, then from Rana, then from Morgan and finally from Russell. KKR batsmen got beautiful 30s, but could never build on it.

To chase a target in the vicinity of 200, you need one batsman to play the long innings. KKR is a team, that is well aware of this fact. In the final of  IPL 2014, KKR successfully chased down a target of 200 odd, courtesy an excellent 95 by Manish Pandey, while others played small cameos around him. KKR needed somebody to play the Manish Pandey kind of innings today and there was simply just none.

Pat Cummins brought down the margin of defeat with some lusty blows off Bumrah. But by the time, he started hitting the match was already over. Prima facie it seems that the KKR batsmen are yet to adapt to the pace of the UAE wickets. Russell, Morgan, as well as DK, were all unable to time the ball sweetly. Things hopefully will only get better from here on for KKR, surely.

Bumrah was at his potent best tonight as hurrying batsmen like Morgan and Russell for pace is no mean feat for any bowler. The yorkers and the slower ones were falling in place after a long time for the Indian pace spearhead and as an Indian fan, you are bound to be enraptured at his performance. Rohit Sharma also needs to be appreciated for his strategy of using Bumrah much before the death overs. Rohit knew well, that if Bumrah could pick up Russell before the slog overs, the game would be killed then and there. Bumrah repaid the faith by removing both Russell and Morgan in the 16th over, thus making the remaining 4 overs a mere formality.

KKR has a lot of work to do going forward, as their batsmen need to get rid of their rust as soon as possible. Dinesh Karthik is not a huge fan of Narine opening the innings as he opened with Lynn and Gill in few matches, last year. Will DK tweak the top order and bring Rahul Tripathi to open with Gill? We will find that out in the upcoming matches.

Don’t be surprised if you find Pat Cummins coming out with Gill to open the batting next match – You never know, just saying..