The ninth match of this year’s IPL finally provided us with a game, the likes of which the tournament is famous for. Somehow this edition was deprived of those nail biting finishes that we have witnessed in the previous editions till now. But an encounter between the current champions (Mumbai Indians) and infallible debutants (Gujarat Lions) provided all the necessary ingredients to provide a last over finish. Finally it was the men from Gujarat who continued on their winning ways thanks to an amazing display of self-confidence and cool head from the veteran Aaron Finch. So in this edition of Essentially Sports, we bring to you the talking points from a thrilling encounter between Gujarat Lions and Mumbai Indians:
Mitchell Mclenaghan came up with one of the best fast bowling spells that we have witnessed in this edition of the IPL. He ran hard and provided Mumbai with a breakthrough whenever they looked out of sorts. He was more disciplined and maintained a tight line all throughout his spell. He prised out the opposition captain and scalped the dangerous looking Akshdeep Nath in the middle overs. But it was the second last over that was really worth mentioning. Needing 13 in the last two overs with both Faulkner and Finch on crease, alluded to the fact that Mumbai had to pull off something really incredible to win the game. And the left arm pacer from New Zealand almost provided them with enough spark when he hunted Faulkner and the Praveen Kumar in the first four balls. More importantly he produced 4 dot balls and kept Finch away from the strikers end. He finished with just couple of singles with his last two balls and conferred the hosts with every chance of pulling off a blinder. Mclenaghan finished off with marvellous figures of 4-0-21-4.
The defending champions had a terrible outing with the bat with none of their top order batsmen being able to capitalise on their decent starts. They kept loosing wickets at regular intervals and found themselves grappling at 99 for 7 under 17 overs. There was a clear lack of application as they tried to dominate a disciplined Gujrat bowling unit. It was only because of late order heroics from both Tim Southee and Krunal Pandya that the hosts managed clamber to a decent total. The former managed to find the middle of the stick couple of times and played an entertaining cameo of 25 in 11 balls. He found a decent partner in Pandya who too manged to find the boundary on three occasions and contributed with a much needed 20 of just 11 balls. The pair dragged their team from an abysmal 99 for 7 in 17 overs to a substantial 143 in their allotted 20 overs. They provided Mumbai with an outside chance especially on a wicket that didn’t necessarily make new batsmen smile.
Dhawal Kulkarni stepped up to grab the opportunity in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja and sent a sweet reminder to his former team about what they might be missing out on. Dhawal looked sharp with the new ball and kept it wicket to wicket providing no margin to mellifluous Mumbai batsmen. He was rewarded for his discipline as both Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya fell prey to the local lad trying to pierce the gap on the leg side. The early inroads made sure that momentum shifted in the direction of the visitors. He somehow managed to fill in the shoes of absent all-rounder -Ravindra Jadeja when he managed to clear the in-field to find a much needed boundary in the last over of the innings. Kulkarni finished with the figures of 4-1-19-2 and wielded his stick at the right time to provide support to Finch on the other end.
Although it is too early to direct any flak on the defending champions, especially keeping in mind their later part heroics in the earlier seasons, one still feels a sort of anarchy in their much touted batting order. They have got players who are capable of winning games for their franchise, provided they are utilised well. A lot of issues need to be pondered over by the illustrious think tank of the Mumbai unit. First and foremost, is how they plan on fitting Pandya in the side. Because clearly it is inexplicable to give him a no. 3 positions, and ask someone like Ambati Rayudu to come in and get those quick runs in the later part of the innings. Because right now both of them are making a pig’s ear of their allotted niche. Second they need to fit in someone like Guptill in their side. Considering the kind of form he has been since the past year, his inclusion is only going to adorn the Mumbai’s batting line up. This means that they need to relinquish either Pollard or Southee from their line-up, and keeping in mind Pollard’s recent form, it is difficult to envision him in the playing Xi in the coming games. This makes a top order comprising of Guptill, Parthiv Patel and Rohit Sharma, and lets Raydu, Buttler and Pandya get into the middle order, a place where they are tested in and are both comfortable and acquainted with. Whatever may be the case, the men from Mumbai need to act quickly and find the combinations right because nobody likes courting losses and miracles don’t happen every year.