|Mumbai Indians’ bowling, spearheaded by Malinga, came good yesterday|
Mumbai Indians (MI) registered their second win of this season’s Indian Premier League (IPL), as they comfortably overcame an ordinary Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) side by 20 runs at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
Rohit Sharma chose to bat first after winning the toss, but his side could manage only 157/8, which was a below par score on a pitch that was on the slower side.
In reply, Sunrisers got off to a blistering start, with Shikhar Dhawan striking boundaries at will and taking the attack to Harbhajan Singh in particular, as the visitors raced to 50 well within the powerplay which, however, accounted for both the Sunrisers’ openers.
Mumbai started growing in confidence at the fall of Dhawan for 42, as they succeeded in choking up the runs while also picking wickets at regular intervals, eventually going onto win the game by 20 runs.
In retrospect, what did we learn from that MI performance which… well, was good enough on the day?
MI still cannot get their team combination right
Prior to the game, I felt that the one-time IPL winners needed a fresh opening pair. Parthiv Patel, who is experiencing a below-par IPL season with the bat, isn’t the kind of batsman who will give you blistering starts at the top of the innings.
Having been handed a 5th consecutive opportunity in the playing XI, the diminutive southpaw scored a run-a-ball 17, failing to rotate strike and not playing the ideal foil for Lendl Simmons.
Also, in the bowling department, the selection of Vinay Kumar, who had picked up just 1 wicket and an economy rate of over 8 in the 4 games prior to yesterday, was inexplicable. The decision to sacrifice a batsman (Hardik Pandya) in order to make space for a bowler was not wrong, but the choice of replacement was definitely not the right one.
Jagadeesha Suchith, who replaced Jasprit Bumrah, bowled well and played a significant role in Mumbai getting a stranglehold of proceedings during the middle stages of the visitors’ innings.
Fortuitously for the home side, none of their selection blunders cost them yesterday.
Mumbai’s approach to their batting innings was plain cynical
Rohit, at the toss, said that his side would be cautious upfront, not lose wickets and pull the trigger during the latter stages of their innings.
Having not got off to good starts so far in the season, it was probably a sensible approach, which was executed to perfection by both the Mumbai openers.
However, the Indians left themselves with too much to do in the second-half of their innings. They reached 72/2 at the end of 10 overs and had Simmons and Rohit in the middle, but the nature of the surface was such that it got harder to score runs as the ball got older and older, a pattern that Rohit was well aware of before the game.
In addition to the slow playing surface on offer, Mumbai had to contend with a good Sunrisers’ bowling attack that did not have a weak link in it, and on their own, they were a batsman short.
Taking these aspects into consideration, it was tough to understand why Mumbai took the defensive approach at the beginning of the innings, and found themselves way behind the eight ball going into the last 10 overs.
Simmons’ form is a major positive
The Caribbean opener came up with a well-compiled knock of 51(42) that, in a way, held the innings together.
On a slow surface it was crucial for the hosts that one batsman anchored the innings, which Simmons did.
When Dale Steyn dismissed the right-hander, Mumbai had reached 100/3 after 12.3 overs but could muster a mere 57 off the remaining 45 deliveries, highlighting the significance of the 30-year old’s innings at the top of the order.
In the coming games, Simmons’ form will be crucial to Mumbai’s chances of surging upwards in the league table. With Rohit slotting himself at No.4, MI need a batsman, who can score quick runs and also face a good portion of the team’s 20 overs, at the top of the order.
Simmons suffered an injury on his right leg while trying to stop a boundary, and went off the field with 5-6 overs to go. The Indians would be hoping that he is fit to play for them against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) on May Day.
The bowling lineup came good…finally
Though the batting unit hasn’t really delivered except for one game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), the bowling attack has had some serious questions asked of it.
With the batting unit once again failing to put up a decent score on the board, the onus was on MI’s bowling to come up with a match-winning effort, and Lasith Malinga and co. did just that.
Harbhajan had a disappointing outing, conceding easy boundaries to Dhawan, who accrued 18 runs off the Turbanator’s second over. Though the off-spinner came back well in his last two overs, he ended up conceding 36 off his 4 overs.
Mitchell McClenaghan and Malinga were the standout bowlers, who picked up 7 wickets between them and conceded a mere 43 runs in their 8 overs.
McClenaghan, in particular, bowled very well and dismissed some of the key SRH batsmen – Dhawan, K Lokesh Rahul and Ravi Bopara – at various stages during the innings.
Malinga took 3 wickets in his last over, and also accounted for David Warner at the beginning of Sunrisers’ innings.
Suchith bowled an economic four over spell that was taken for only 25 runs, with Naman Ojha also getting out to the Karnataka spinner.