In mid September, when Mumbai Indians reached United Arab Emirates (UAE) to participate in the IPL 2020, they had a torrid record in this part of the world – losing all their previous five matches in the country. However, after almost three months, by the time they boarded the return flight, the team had already defended their title (fifth title overall, most by any side in the IPL) in an empathic fashion as well as making a reputation of being the strongest T20 franchise side ever.
Mumbai Indian’s campaign this year has been nothing sort of a dream run. They came into this tournament as one of the favourites and by time the business end of the competition arrived, the Rohit Sharma-led side remained the only favourite. After starting their season with a defeat against arch rivals Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai turned things around emphatically by winning 11 out of their next 15 matches. And on most occasions it was not just a mere victory, Mumbai almost steamrolled their opponents.
They maintained their composure throughout the remained the only dominant team in this highly competitive edition of IPL. In fact, one can’t associate the cliche of “deserving champion” better than what we witnessed with this team in this just concluded cricket extravaganza.
First and foremost, sticking to a tried and tested combination has been the success mantra for Mumbai. They were not many unnecessary changes which allowed the players to understand their exact role and get into the grooves.
Their pace attack, especially the performance of Trent Boult (25 scalps with 15 matches with an economy of 7.97 in this season) with the new ball has been a huge plus point. Remember, he was traded in this squad from Delhi just before this season and what masterstroke that has been for the franchise! The performance of Boult also allowed Jasprit Bumrah (27 wickets in 15 matches with an economy of 6.73) to strangle the opposition in the middle and death overs.
Meanwhile, the biggest positive, however, was the batsmanship of two uncapped players — Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan. At No.3 Suryakumar (480 runs in 16 matches with a strike-rate of 145.01) was as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. He provided the required stability in the top three and also made up for the inconsistent form of his skipper. Whereas, mostly at No.4 Kishan (516 runs in 14 matches with a strike-rate of 145.76) was allowed to play his natural free-flowing game. In the middle-overs he took the attack to the oppositions and provided a good launching pad for a final assault in the last four overs for the likes of Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya.
Quinton de Kock started the season with some rusty form but he picked things up pretty well in the middle and finished as the second highest scorer for the franchise (503 runs in 16 matches with a strike-rate of 140.50). Here credit needs to be given to the captain and team management for sticking with him during his tough times.
Furthermore, Rohit, despite his up and down form, led this team with utmost confidence. He is a natural leader and knows how to get the best out of his players and this was clearly evident this season. Especially, they way he handled his youngsters like Kishan and Rahul Chahar, was truly incredible.
Was there any negative?
Barring Rohit’s form and injury concerns Mumbai ticked almost all the positive boxes in this IPL 2020. Though, ideally they would have liked a bit more contribution from the Pandya brothers.
The next season of IPL is just six months away and we will have a mega auction, in which all the other franchises will go after the Mumbai players following their dominating show in the UAE. Hence, it will be a challenge for their management to keep the core group intact. They will probably retain Rohit, Bumrah and Pollard and will pick the other key players from the auction. For the likes of Ishan and Suryakumar, Mumbai should not hesitate to use their RTM (Right To Match) card.
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