Isn’t it a bit ironic that the land so devoted to Lord Ganesh can’t ever start the tournament well!? Mumbai Indians have lost yet another opening game. In fact, Mumbai hasn’t won their opening IPL game since all the way back in 2012! That’s when Sachin Tendulkar was still an active cricketer. And so, our search for some fresh, novel occurrences remains unfulfilled in the first game at least.
The team selections had a few surprises in store for us. CSK didn’t make any shocking picks in particular, but they did go for only 5 bowling options. But MI made two unexpected picks, they selected Saurabh Tiwary instead of Ishan Kishan, and James Pattinson instead of Nathan Coulter-Nile. Initially, I did believe that these selections were not the best. But interestingly, these were the two players who ended up performing exceedingly well for MI. So I guess Mahela Jayawardene does have more cricketing knowledge than me!
The game started out with a beautiful boundary from Rohit Sharma. And that’s how MI kept playing throughout. Or trying to, at least. The MI team never stopped batting aggressively, and that resulted in an acceptable strike rate, but 9 wickets conceded by them. The string of -teen scores in the MI middle order says it all. As a matter of fact, Quinton De Kock and Saurabh Tiwary were the only batsmen who scored over 20 runs. The feeble MI batting was met by some fierce CSK bowling, and every CSK bowler did his part. No CSK bowler went wicketless. The notion that CSK won’t be able to field well was true to some extent. The younger players made some misfields, but the more senior players pulled out some absolute stunners. Faf Du Plessis turned two sixes into unbelievable catches (saving my fantasy team by getting my captain Jadeja two very undeserved wickets!). They ended with a total of 162 runs, which was respectable but ensured that their bowlers would have to work hard for their bread.
The Mumbai Indians had an absolutely sensational start. They got the wickets of both the CSK openers at just a measly score of 6 runs. It seemed like MI had an unalterable advantage. But then came the partnership that took the game away. Ambati Rayudu and Faf Du Plessis refused to budge, and played excellent knocks. Rayudu took the role of the aggressor, while Faf laid back and anchored the innings at a run-a-ball rate. And MI’s spin weakness cost them in the middle overs, where they weren’t able to take even one wicket. They tried to mount a comeback at the end, but it was too late by then. Their misfields also hurt them quite a bit. First, Trent Boult completely missed an easy ball, and let a single turn into a 4. Then, when the Rayuduplessis partnership was in full force, Krunal Pandya dropped Faf Du Plessis in what could have been a gamechanging moment. In fact, in that same over, every single ball was hit into the air, or rather mishit into the air. They did get one wicket to show for it, but it was too little, too late.
MI might still have had a chance after 17 overs when CSK needed some 32 runs in 18 balls. But Rohit blundered the game with some poor captaincy. He bowled Krunal Pandya, a spinner, a part-time spinner, in the 18th over. Now you could argue that the only other option he had, was Hardik Pandya, who didn’t bowl a single ball. Hardik is coming back from an injury, so of course it will take time for him to get back into bowling rhythm. But Hardik purely as a batsman doesn’t give MI the return that they expect from Hardik and the hefty fee they pay him. Anyhow, Krunal` went for lots of runs in that over, and the fate of the match was all but sealed. Sam Curran blitzed out an 18 from 6 balls, and by the time he got out, the game was done and dusted.
An interesting thing to note is that MS Dhoni demoted himself down the order. He actually came in to bat at No.7! Jadeja was promoted to 5, and Sam Curran to 6. This raises the question though, what are two pure batsmen (Dhoni and Jadhav) doing at the No.7 and No.8 spots? I mean, the circumstances were perfect for a little Dhoni cameo, I see no reason why he couldn’t have gone in there himself. The only possible explanation is that he’s somewhat underconfident, returning to competitive cricket after a gigantic gap of 437 days. His DRS decisions certainly indicated that he wasn’t in great cricketing touch. Hopefully we’ll see more of him up the order as the tournament progresses.
You can understand how badly my predictions failed here.
My Prediction Counter – 0 – 1