Mumbai Indians (MI) registered their 4th win of this season’s Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL), and the third win on the trot, as they comfortably defeated a demoralized Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) side by 23 runs and got themselves up to 8 points on the IPL table.
Rohit Sharma, as he did in the last couple of games, won the toss against George Bailey’s Kings XI and had no hesitation in batting first on what was a two-paced track.
The visitors were unchanged from the side that played and won against Rajasthan Royals (RR), while the hosts made four changes to the side that lost by 9 wickets to Delhi Daredevils (DD): Murali Vijay came in for Manan Vohra; Glenn Maxwell replaced Shaun Marsh; Karanveer Singh came in place of Shardul Thakur and Mitchell John replaced Thisara Perera.
The Mumbai openers – Parthiv Patel and Lendl Simmons – as they have been doing in recent games, got the team off to a terrific start, putting up a partnership of 111 for the first wicket, before Parthiv perished.
The visitors, however, couldn’t pile on the runs thereafter, and the likes of Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and even the well set Simmons, found it hard to score boundaries towards the latter stages of the MI innings.
The Kings XI bowlers also need to be credited for the way they came back into the game and bowled those yorkers at will, to tie down the visitors’ batsmen who can be so hard to stop normally.
Mumbai finished with 172/3 at the end of 20 overs – a score that would not have satisfied them after the kind of start they had made, even though it got harder to bat as the innings wore on.
MI’s bowlers needed to strike early after their batsmen failed to post a total close to 200, and they responded brilliantly, with Lasith Malinga removing Virender Sehwag in the first ball of his spell and all other bowlers chipping in with wickets and economical overs throughout the hosts’ innings.
It was yet another comprehensive victory that not only would have boosted MI’s confidence even more, but has also given them a realistic chance of being involved in the playoffs.
In hindsight, what did we learn from that Mumbai performance? Read on…
Punjab’s new ball bowlers played it into Mumbai’s hands
Mumbai have had this perennial problem of not being able to find a solid opening pair, and that has continued this season too, except for the last 5 games in which Parthiv and Simmons have really put their best foot forward.
Prior to the game I felt Punjab needed to pick up early wickets and get into that shaky Mumbai middle-order as quickly as possible.
However, Sandeep Sharma and Anureet Singh, bowlers who have done well so far this season, failed to make a disciplined start and both the Mumbai openers cashed in on the freebies Punjab bowlers provided them with.
Mumbai’s score kept soaring with each passing over and, before Kings XI managed to stem the flow of runs, the damage had been done by as early as the 10th over.
Erratic bowling from the Punjab bowlers to start off with benefited Mumbai immensely and it also meant that the visitors, despite scoring just 62 runs off the last 8 overs, still managed to put up a competitive total on the board.
Parthiv played an absolute gem of a knock
The wicket-keeper batsman has had his fair share of criticism for not converting the good starts he usually makes while opening the innings, not only this year but also in previous seasons with various franchises.
This season, he has been continuing that bad habit of getting dismissed after making good starts to his innings’ and playing himself in during the initial overs. Before yesterday, his highest score for the season was a mere 28 and he, more than anyone else, would have been disappointed at his own performances.
|Parthiv’s innings was absolutely magnificent|
However, there was definite spunk about the way he approached his innings, picking the right balls to hit and emphasizing on timing his shots, rather than looking to hit the ball hard.
His first scoring short of the evening was a crisply struck cover-drive that sped away to the boundary. It was a magnificent way to start off the innings but, in Parthiv’s case, it was not something we haven’t seen before. The question, therefore, was whether he could carry on yesterday, and he did, finally.
The diminutive southpaw really got going in the 5th over of the innings, which was delivered by Johnson who conceded 15 off his first over, including a six and a couple of boundaries to Parthiv, who really was in his zone.
Once he got into a free-scoring rhythm, Parthiv didn’t slow down and instead assumed the role of the aggressor in the partnership between him and Simmons, being assured in his approach and playing pure cricketing shots.
He got out trying to hit a six in the 13th over of innings, holding out to deep square leg after playing a good pick up shot off his pads.
His innings of 59 (36), punctuated by five 4s and three 6s, was an absolute delight to watch and proved significant in the overall context of the game, as other Mumbai batsmen, including the well set Simmons, found it really hard to score runs in the last third of the innings.
Mumbai’s bowling attack just keeps getting better
MI’s bowling was probably their weakest suit not so long ago. However, they have turned it around so quickly after ignominiously failing to defend a competitive score of 184 against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the Wankhede Stadium earlier this season.
The addition of Mitchell McClenaghan has helped, obviously, with the New Zealand seamer picking wickets and keeping things tight when he is not dismissing batsmen.
Let us also not forget his match-winning spells of 4-0-20-3 and 4-0-31-3 against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and the Royals, respectively, in back-to-back games that started off this revival for Mumbai.
Malinga’s bowling too has improved as the season has progressed, and the Sri Lankan quickie has become really accurate with his yorkers and slower deliveries over the last couple of games. Mumbai will especially be delighted with the form of Malinga, who has been their talisman over the years in the IPL.
Against the Kings XI, it was a very good performance from the entire Mumbai bowling attack, as every specialist bowler performed his trade very well and made it hard for the hosts’ batsmen to score runs freely.
It was particularly pleasing to see Jagadeesha Suchith and Vinay Kumar bowl economically and not disrupt the good work done by the trio of Malinga, Harbhajan Singh and McClenaghan.
The decision to stick with the playing XI is reaping the desired rewards
Over the course of the last five games, 4 of which have been won by Mumbai, something or the other has not looked right and we have asked ourselves why the team management has been hesitant to make changes to the playing XI.
The likes of Vinay, Unmukt Chand and even Parthiv, prior to yesterday, didn’t make major contributions to the team’s cause and the other players, therefore, had to shoulder the majority of the responsibility.
However, against the Kings XI, it was definitely a team effort, with all 11 men contributing either with the bat, ball, or on the field, taking a catch or stopping a boundary.
Vinay took a very good catch to dismiss Maxwell, and probably bowled his best spell – 3-0-17-0 – so far this season.
Chand didn’t get to bat, but took a good running catch to dismiss Vijay. And as far as he is concerned, we definitely need to say that the team management, despite being let down by the youngster on occasions already this season, continues to believe and persevere in this individual.
Like Vinay and Chand, persevering with Parthiv also paid dividends yesterday.
The credit has to be the given to the team management for their nous and belief they have shown in their players.
MI need to keep their heads down
MI produced a terrific all-round display against Punjab, which arguably is the best they have done so far this season.
However, having said that, the caliber of today’s opponents also needs to be taken into account and, honestly, Kings XI are nowhere near the kind of the side they were last season, as was admitted by Sanjay Bangar, the KXIP coach, midway through his side’s innings.
Mumbai definitely deserve the points and credit for their performance yesterday, but I feel that they weren’t pushed enough by Punjab, to assess themselves as a unit.
Rohit’s men have kept getting better as the season has progressed, but they have far bigger challenges to come and need to refocus immediately.
Mumbai are up against the Daredevils next, and they will be playing J-P Duminy’s side at the Wankhede fortress.
The Indians will be relatively confident of repeating yesterday’s performance against KXIP, but the result of tomorrow’s game will have far greater repercussions on both sides’ chances of making it to the playoffs.
Mumbai, therefore, will be under greater pressure than yesterday, enabling us to get a better idea of how improved they are as a unit.