Continuing their brilliant form right through the season, five-star Mumbai Indians put in another clinical performance to defend their Indian Premier League crown on Tuesday. Such was their dominance over the proceedings, that for many the contest was over as early as the fourth over of the first innings, when the Delhi Capitals lost in-form Shikhar Dhawan owing to a brilliant tactical change by skipper Rohit Sharma.
Between the hard-hitting runs of Sharma and fellow opener Quinton de Kock and the devastating fast bowling of Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah, MI swept aside everything in their path in 2020, deservingly claiming their fifth title. We take a look at five factors that played a big part in Mumbai Indians triumph.
Rohit Sharma’s astute captaincy
In many ways, Mumbai Indians’ evolution and domination as a team has run parallel to the personal growth and success of Rohit. He doesn’t like to dwell on the past too much and talk about what brought about his transformation as a cricketer. Despite being sidelined with injury for part of the campaign, a peerless Rohit led from the front in defending champions Mumbai Indians’ demolition of Delhi Capitals in the summit clash, giving them an unprecedented fifth title.
Since 2013, he has levelled up so quickly that even those who have closely monitored his progress as a cricketer from a young age have struggled to make sense of the turnaround. With the win on Tuesday, Rohit keeps his record as MI skipper intact as Mumbai have never lost an IPL final under his captaincy. Once again proving that he is the man for the big occasions, he smashed 68 off 51 balls taking the responsibility when it matters the most. Rohit, who took over MI’s captaincy from current DC coach Ricky Ponting in the middle of the 2013 season, has been the skipper during a glorious eight-year period, in which MI have triumphed five times.
DC’s big guns flop
The Delhi Capitals were touted as firm underdogs before the final. For they are a bunch of good white-ball players, who need to step up during big games. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Marcus Stoinis have been their star performers throughout the campaign. But two masterstrokes by Rohit Sharma nullified DC’s hopes on the duo.
The Capitals had earned a spot in the final thanks to a superb performance from burly all-rounder Marcus Stoinis. But promoting him to opener didn’t pay off on the biggest stage, as he was dismissed for a golden duck on the first ball of the match.
Shikhar Dhawan too was cleaned up by Jayant Yadav’s deceptive off-spin. Capitals, who rode the 96-run stand between captain Shreyas Iyer (65 not out) and Rishabh Pant (56) to post a 150-plus total, desperately needed their premier bowlers, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, to make early inroads. But the aggression of De Kock and Rohit against the two quicks doused their hopes while clearing Mumbai’s way to earn back-to-back titles.
Boult from the sky
Apart from the ever-dependable Jasprit Bumrah, Mumbai Indians were spurred on by inspired bowling by New Zealand seamer Trent Boult. The decision to trade Boult to the Mumbai Indians came back to haunt the Delhi Capitals yet again. The left-arm pacer was Mumbai’s hero with the ball in the IPL Final as he came up with a match-winning spell to restrict Delhi to 156-7 after DC elected to bat first in the title clash.
Boult was on the money right from the start. He struck with the very first delivery of the match, having Marcus Stoinis caught behind for a golden duck. Boult was at his best-pitching the ball up, and swinging it back into the right-handed batsman at a considerable pace. He got the ball to move away from the right-hander, who poked from the crease, but was done in by the extra bounce and got a thick outside edge which was easily pouched by wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock.
Boult then crippled Delhi further with Ajinkya Rahane’s wicket in his next over. The right-hander missed the flick off his pads, the ball took the edge and he was caught down the leg side by de Kock.
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Mumbai Indians’ consistency
Mumbai Indians were relentless in their pursuit of defending their crown. Despite their trademark slow start, the Rohit Sharma-led franchise utterly dominated the IPL. So much so that, anything less would have been almost unfair to their excellence. Their all-round preparation and execution were head and shoulders above the chasing pack and that reflected in the fact that they suffered just three defeats during the entire campaign, the joint-lowest in an IPL history.
The one-sided result might feel anti-climactic to many, but it was a testament to Mumbai Indians peerless performances with level-headed consistency. No player from MI won the purple cap or the orange cap or was named the MVP. But that was only because so many players did well for them on a regular basis. They shared the spoils and won the trophy collectively, which must feel like a proper team effort. The manner in which Suryakumar Yadav sacrificed his wicket for Rohit in the final, talks a lot about MI’s ability in inspiring players to do the right thing without even thinking about individual glory.
The batting powerhouse
Not that Mumbai Indians were chasing a mammoth total for a win against DC on Tuesday. Yet, their openers Quinton de Kock and Rohit came out and smashed 45 in four overs before the South African was dismissed. But in a matter of four overs, they burst DC’s balloon and then cruised to victory. This not just asserts their domination but talks about their positive mindset as well. The cliche, you win both power plays in a T20 match, you invariably win the match. Mumbai did not just win those phases, they blew Delhi away.
Apart from Rohit and de Kock, the likes of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav have been ever-present throughout the campaign. There was a sticky patch for MI when Rohit was absent for a fortnight. Ishan and Surya both stepped up and made most of the opportunities to stamp their authority on the opponents. Such timely knocks have been the hallmark of Mumbai’s successful title defence, with such unerring, unflinching belief that they could overcome anything that was thrown their way.