Mumbai Indians 129/8 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 33; Avesh Khan 3-15, Axar Patel 3-21) lost to Delhi Capitals 132/6 in 19.1 overs (Shreyas Iyer 33* Rishabh Pant 26; Trent Boult 1-24) by 4 wickets.
In most of the matches in this edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), teams have floundered or found themselves in tricky situations while chasing a low total. It seemed almost as if the art of batting according to the situation and rotating the strike had got lost in the glamour of extravagant stroke making. However, Shreyas Iyer (33* in 33 balls) in good company of Ashwin (20* in 21 balls) exuded confidence and displayed some sensible batting to take Delhi Capitals (DC) home with 4 wickets & 5 balls to spare.
Chasing just 130 to win, the DC batsmen seemed in a hurry. Prithvi Shaw hit a boundary but departed soon after. Dhawan went for a suicidal run as he tapped to Pollard who swooped on the ball & hit the stumps with deadly accuracy. Smith did not last long & walked so far across that his leg stump was knocked off by Coulter-Nile. Pant walked in & showed all of his dare delivery though the situation demanded a calmer head from the captain. Few hits and some mis-hits made it look like a cameo (26 in 22) but his end was certain. Eventually he got holed out to Hardik in the deep, off the bowling of Yadav. Hetmyer seemed to want to follow his captain’s footsteps and perished soon after.
Despite all the heroics, DC were 46/3 in the powerplay & 65/4 after the first 10. Shreyas, from the other end, watched the wickets tumble & DC made things difficult for themselves. He kept a calm head and in Ashwin he found an able partner. They kept rotating the strike with singles and kept in touch with the low asking rate. With 37 needed off 41 balls, the situation would have got more complicated for DC if any more wickets were to fall. The pair added an unbeaten 39 runs for the 7th wicket and struck a few boundaries off Boult & Bumrah in the final overs, quietly guiding DC over the finish line.
Mumbai Indians (MI) having lost the toss, had to bat first & it seemed like they completely misread the slow Sharjah wicket. They seemed to be gunning for 170 when 150 would have been quite adequately above par. Rohit started the innings with a boundary of the 1st ball of the match but in the very next over was hurried for pace by an Avesh Khan delivery & edged a pull shot to Rabada at 3rd man. While DC would have banked on Rabada & Nortje as their premier go to bowlers, it was Axar and Avesh who stole the show with 3 wickets each & having a combined bowling figures of 8-0-36-6.
Quinton de Kock & Suryakumar Yadav looked to up the tempo but the score read as 35/1 at the end of the power play. QDK hit a 4 & 6 but was clearly lacking the timing and has been quite out of depth in this UAE leg of the IPL. He was out soon, trying to force the pace against Axar. SKY (33 of 26) for once, got off to a good start but gave it away trying to smash a low full toss from Axar. Axar snared Tiwary (15 of 18) as well & notched 3 crucial wickets to his name. While Axar bowled with unerring accuracy and control, Ashwin leaked runs from the other end, giving as many as 41 runs in his 4 overs, in a low scoring encounter. Pollard could not get going and Nortje picked him up for a wicket maiden in the 15th over. The next over from Avesh Khan also fetched only 1 run and MI limped to 129/8 in their 20 overs. A very sub par score indeed.
The points table now makes for an interesting and fascinating battle that seems to be on the cards for the 4th spot, though RCB have not yet qualified and snatched the 3rd slot. RCB need to win just 1 game of their remaining 3 and given their current form, they should be able to squeeze in. DC & CSK have already qualified, so it would be MI, RR, PBKS & KKR all of whom are at 10 points with 12 games played. So each of these 4 teams are now faced with a must win scenario in their remaining 2 games and hope that the outcomes of the other matches go their way.
KKR & MI both play against RR and SRH in their final 2 games and they will fancy their chances against these opponents. PBKS play RCB & CSK and based on recent matches, it’s unlikely that PBKS will win both & that too with a highly increased NRR. It will eventually boil down to the NRR between KKR & MI from the looks of it. MI also have the advantage that they play the last qualifying match and they will be knowing what exactly the requirements are. MI fans are in familiar territory & will still believe that MI can go through as they have been in similar situations before. Who can forget the historic victory for MI v/s RR in 2014, when they had to win in 14.3 overs to get the required NRR and Aditya Tare hit a 6 to get the NRR up by just some decimal points?
Some fascinating and edge of the seat matches are in store up ahead. Excitement awaits & we can hardly wait as the mystery unfolds!