The ring of fire welcomed MI and DC for the first of the weekend double-headers. It has been a strange fortnight for DC, as they have gone down from being table toppers to scrambling for a place in the playoffs. In fact, from a position where they were fighting for a place in the top 2, they have come down to fighting for a place in the top 4. However, because of a series of a win early in the tournament, DC can manage to get through on their own merit, if they win either of the remaining 2 matches. Otherwise, they need a lot of other results to go their way, if they want to make it to the playoffs. MI, on the other hand, has already qualified for the playoffs and was looking to seal a place in the top 2 with a victory in this match.
Kieron Pollard won the toss and chose to field on a belter of a pitch at Dubai. Cricket is such a great leveler. A week back Shikhar Dhawan was basking in the glory of consecutive centuries in IPL. Life was a rosebed for him and in a matter of 7 days, tables have turned big time. From scoring 2 consecutive centuries, he has now scored 2 consecutive ducks to let his team down. Today he went hard at a Boult outswinger early on in his inning and lost his prized wicket in the process.
Just to clarify, there were absolutely no demons on the wicket. It was irresponsible strokeplay from DC coupled with some excellent bowling performance from Bumrah that brought about the downfall of Delhi. Shaw has gone back to his irresponsible form of batting after a brief consistent run in the tournament and he looks horrible when he is not firing.
The two spinners we have spoken at length about, in this tournament are Bishnoi and Chakravarthy. The one, who has gone under the radar so often is Rahul Chahar. He quietly comes in tosses the ball up, beats eminent batsmen in flight, and picks up a wicket or 2 every match. In fact, he is the main reason why MI need not bring back Bumrah or Boult in the middle overs. Today, he picked up Iyer by beating him in flight- a feat that Rahul can indeed be proud of.
After Iyer’s dismissal, it was just the Bumrah show. It was an exhibition of seam bowling of the highest quality from the premier Indian paceman. Bumrah looked at his lethal best today as he seemed absolutely unplayable. His wrist position was impeccable as he made full use of the seam and made life difficult for the batsmen out there. Stoinis was done in by the seam movement and edged one to De Kock. Pant, with his head falling over, never looked to be in a position to play the seaming ball and was ultimately trapped infront of the wicket. Harshal Patel- who is a pretty decent domestic allrounder, was made to look like a tail-ender in front of Bumrah, who ultimately accounted for his wicket. The extraordinary form of Bumrah will keep the Indian team in very good stead as they travel Down Under in less than a month’s time.
It was a procession for Delhi to the dugout, as the misfiring DC batting lineup encountered a massive collapse today. Rahul Chahar, Coulter Nile, Boult everyone chipped in with wickets as DC somehow took the score to the 3 figure mark.
As I stated earlier in the article, that the pitch was innocuous for batting. It was just horrible batting from DC and some mind-blowing bowling from MI. The same was proved once, MI came out to bat. The pitch at Dubai did not help Rabada or Nortje this afternoon. It was essentially a pitch that was baked by the sun and aided seam movement. Hit-the-deck hard kind of bowling was becoming freebies for the batsmen, as the length just sat up to be hit.
Since the pitch neither provided bounce nor proved to be sticky, Nortje was rendered ineffective. Rabada, who is generally impeccable with his seam presentation in red-ball cricket tried to use the seam well but bowled wrong lines to both the left-handers. As both their overseas fast bowlers were taken to the cleaners DC was not left with any hope.
Ishan Kishan showed his explosive prowess once again, as he raced to 72 off 47 deliveries to take the match away from Delhi single-handedly. Some of the cover drives, cuts and pulls that he played off top-quality international bowlers spoke about his ability and it may just happen that he leapfrogs Rishabh Pant into the Indian national team pretty soon. He has shown in this season that his game has improved a lot and has become much more solid. Most importantly, he has just stepped up at the right moment for his team, when Rohit Sharma got injured. Kishan’s presence at the top of the order has ensured that MI does not miss Rohit, the batsman in their last few games.
With a victory in this game, MI guaranteed themselves a top 2 finish and thus a huge opportunity to grab the title for a record 5th time. DC, on the other hand, has to regroup themselves and manufacture a victory against RCB, if they want to keep their fortunes in their own hand.