The second match of the day at Abu Dhabi was expected to be a nail biter. Two teams who have looked the best in the tournament by a few miles, from others faced off against each other. Both DC and MI have found their ideal 11 pretty early in the tournament. The players are looking in form for both franchises and most importantly both of them have a very strong bench-strength, to replace any player in the squad.

Shreyas Iyer won the toss, and as per the norm of the tournament in the latter half, opted to bat first. Pant was sitting out of the squad due to an injury and as a result, Carey came in for his replacement. But in order to restrict the no. of overseas players to 4, Rahane had to replace Hetmeyer. It is strange how in spite of playing an excellent inning last match, Hetmeyer had to sit out because somebody else was injured- I guess that is how to franchise tournaments function.

Prithvi Shaw was dismissed cheaply today courtesy a special Boult magic as he was caught at covers by Krunal Pandya. Rahane came out to bat, with a golden opportunity to cement his place in the playing eleven. However, the best thing Rohit is doing recently is unleashing all his 3 major pacers in the powerplay. Earlier he used to hold back Bumrah for the death, but he realizes that setting the tone early is important.

Quinton de Kock of Mumbai Indians appeals successfully for the wicket Ajinkya Rahane

Bumrah bowled a 1-run over to Dhawan in the powerplay. In order to up the ante against Krunal in the very next over, Rahane was trapped in front of the stumps. Shreyas and Dhawan then took responsibility to build up a solid foundation for DC.

Shreyas has done this time and again for India at No. 4 over the past 18 months and he was up to the task right away. He played risk-free cricket against Pollard, Chahar, and Pattinson to rush to a brisk 33-ball-42 to lend some solidity to the DC inning. Ultimately, he was dismissed by Krunal Pandya- who impressed with the ball in hand tonight.

Krunal is never a huge spinner of the ball and tonight as well, he was just pinpoint in his line and length not allowing the batsmen to slog him to cow corner. The odd ball gripped on the surface for him today and he was easily the best spinner for MI tonight as he finished with match figures of 2 for 26.

The problem with DC was that their inning never got the finishing flourish it required. Marcus Stoinis, who has lit up the tournament with his batting this year was sent packing after a terrible confusion with Shikhar Dhawan in the 17th over. Dhawan carried his bat through but could not take the strong death bowling of Bumrah and Boult to the cleaners. I would say, Dhawan’s inning cost DC the match. You cannot be batting for 52 balls wth a mere strike rate of 132.

In the second essay, the strategic Shreyas used the tactic of a spinner against Rohit early in the inning. Rohit is getting exposed repeatedly in this front. His susceptibility against spin was exposed by Kohli as well, as Sundar picked Rohit early in his inning. Tonight Axar scalped with a top edge.

QDK used his newfound form to good effect, as he scored a brisk half-century. He was particularly severe with his horizontal bat shots against the left-arm spin of Axar and the pace of his countrymate Anrich Nortje. To MI’s delight, today’s victory for MI came via 2 batsmen who returned to form very recently for them. Surya Yadav- again a batsman who has enjoyed his leader’s backing all through his career, repaid the trust once again.

The back and across movement for Surya is occurring flawlessly. His trigger movement is absolutely on point. He is playing the flicks and sweeps over square leg and fine-leg to perfection. MI can only smile at their middle-order batsman’s performance going forward. Also, it means, the form of Surya can be a cause of worry for a lot of teams in this tournament.

Ashwin, though taken for a few bowled good lines and picked up De Kock. Rabada was as usual brutal with his pace to scalp a few late wickets in the form of Hardik and Surya. Rabada almost turned the match in DC’s favor, but an off day for Nortje and Harshal meant that he did not have the required backing from the other end.   

Though MI lost a few quick wickets at the back end, they were always slated to win the game. The MI express is running successfully on the IPL highway. Will we see the cup go to Rohit for the 5th time? Only time will tell.