Tonight the royalty of Rajasthan clashed against the business capital of India, Mumbai. From the pure cricketing perspective, it promised to be a mouth-watering clash, as Rajasthan had tapered off after a strong start at Sharjah. Mumbai on the other hand, for the first time in IPL history, had begun their tournament in very good form. It looks as if, Mumbai had struck their ideal 11, even before most of the teams could adjust to the dry heat of UAE. So, it would be a battle between two teams located on two opposite sides of the bell-curve.
MI won the toss and chose to bat. RR made a very positive change by bringing in the young pacy Kartik Tyagi in the place of an ineffective Unadkat. However, Smith started the game with one of his typical brain-fade moments- he opened the bowling with Ankit Rajpoot and Shreyas Gopal in spite of having Archer in the team. Kartik Tyagi is known for his ability to swing the ball both ways- in fact, he is called the next Bhuvaneshwar Kumar of India. Even he was not handed the new ball- I must say inexplicable decision-making from Smith.
Jofra and Tyagi were brought in only after the 3rd over when the MI openers have already reached 29-0. This early momentum played in the favor of MI. The fact that Tyagi picked up De Kock by hurrying him for pace in his very first over, made Smith’s decision look pretty silly. In fact Tyagi bowled with grit and pace and can turn up to be an asset for RR, if he is given the required space to frow.
The only batsman in the top 4 of MI, who was yet to score a half-century in the tournament got back to form today. Suryakumar Yadav is somebody, Rohit Sharma rates pretty highly. In fact, the MI skipper believes that S.K.Y may be up for an Indian cap pretty soon. This is why Surya had been backed for the last few matches and tonight it was his turn to repay the faith on him.
Surya began cautiously tonight. He scored 12 at run-a-ball and then played a few confident looking shots off Tyagi. But, Surya’s return to form is always marked by his signature loft over deep square leg. The sweep he played against Shreyas Gopal to the square leg boundary officially marked the entry of SKY into the cash-rich league. He carried on from there, driving, pulling, steering the length deliveries to good effect. Another excellent aspect of his inning was that he ran well between the wickets, and kept the scoreboard ticking, anchoring the MI inning from one end in the process.
Shreyas Gopal is flourishing in his role as a powerplay bowler in this IPL. He is being used by Smith in the same pattern as Kohli is using Sundar in this IPL. The legspinner has an excellent loop in his delivery and is surely an underrated cricketer in the franchise squad. Tonight, he accounted for Rohit with a googly and then got Kishan to fall for his loopy trap to slog the delivery.
After scoring his 50 off 36 deliveries, Surya accelerated and scored his next 29 off just 11 deliveries to hand MI the finishing flourish it needed. It should be a matter of pride that MI reached a score of 193 even without the services of Pollard in the middle. Hardik is gradually returning to form and the MI batting lineup has already started to present ominous signs for the remaining teams.
RR’s powerplay outside Sharjah had been a disastrous one. Tonight was no different. Probably because Smith has stayed away from T20s for so long, he is trying o hit the ball too hard. This was not much of a problem at Sharjah as his mishits were also clearing the boundaries. But at Abu Dhabi and Dubai, his frenetic nature has cost him his wicket.
Tonight Smith was as fidgety in front of Bumrah as he was in front of Cummins. He under edged a ball to De Kock who completed an excellent catch from his blind spot to hand MI the early advantage
Kudos to Captain Rohit, for opening the bowling with the trio of Boult, Pattinson, and Bumrah. Launching 3 premiere pacers on the opposition upfront, shifted the momentum in MI’s favor- a strategy that RR missed out on. A couple of days ago Boult was bowling his cutters on the surface of Sharjah and today he was again at his best bowling full swinging deliveries scalping out Jaiswal and Samson- the versatility of a genius.
RR again lost 3 wickets inside the powerplay and Butler at the end was left with too much to do alone. Neither the-last-match-hero Lomror nor Tom Curran was ideal allies to the English wicket-keeper as he played one of the best innings ever played in IPL in a losing cause. Butler’s form is something RR will be pleased about in this match, as he raced to a 44 ball 70 to bring down the losing margin for RR.
Once, Butler was dismissed by a peach of a catch at long-on courtesy Pollard, the rest of the match just remained a formality. Hopefully, Stokes is fit enough to go for the next game, as RR’s middle-order woes are compounding every match.
MI looks like a well-oiled Engine ready to demolish the opposition and they would hope to keep this consistency throughout the tournament.