It’s over. Mumbai Indians’ campaign to defend their title comes to an end. Delhi Daredevils finish the tournament on a high, defeating Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians in their last two matches in the league stage. Mumbai Indians had things simplified for themselves. They had to win to make it to the playoffs. Any other result would have knocked them out of the competition. DD hosted Mumbai Indians at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium last evening. MI had everything to play for and DD had nothing to lose!
DD won the toss and decided to bat first. It was a dry wicket and looked good to bat on first up. Mustafizur got a game as Mitch had a shoulder niggle. For the Daredevils, Liam Plunkett replaced Avesh Khan in the playing eleven. Krunal Pandya got things going for Mumbai Indians. Maxwell opened with Shaw. Maxwell had been given a longer rope and had let his team down on quite a few occasions. He is such an asset but couldn’t deliver the performances that he is so capable of producing. Shaw made a rather lazy effort to get back to the crease and Hardik’s throw from point found him short. MI got their first breakthrough in the fourth over.
Maxwell batted sensibly but couldn’t make the most of the start which he got. He was bowled by Bumrah in the next over for 22. Shreyas didn’t look his usual self in the middle and was struggling with his timing. Pant carried on his good form and was striking them beautifully. He has done enough this season to get the attention of the selectors and the recent snub has had a positive impact on his personal form thankfully. Vijay Shankar’s batting has been a revelation and has come good especially in the second half of the tournament. He has shown his capability with the long handle and he packs a punch when he hits them. Both Pant and Shankar helped the team put on a respectable total on the board.
MI would have fancied themselves, having 175 to chase on a small ground. But the wicket was dry and that would have helped the two wrist spinners. How well MI play out those 8 overs would have more or less sealed their fate. Sandeep opened the bowling for DD. Suryakumar attacked him straight away scoring a four and a six off the first two deliveries. He lost his wicket on the fourth ball, trying to do too many things in the first over. Lewis looked in good touch as well and he hit some screamers. He dismissed four of the seven boundaries into the stands and (almost) took the game away.
Ishan, on the other hand, struggled during every bit of his stay in the middle. He tried to break free on the first ball after the powerplay overs and hit it straight to long on. Amit Mishra struck on his first delivery. That would have boosted his confidence. He struck again in his second over and got the danger man, Lewis, out stumped off a googly. The following over, Sandeep accounted for wickets of both the KP’s. MI were in some serious trouble. Half the side had gone back and with over a hundred left to chase in the final ten, it seemed a tough ask.
Rohit didn’t stay long enough and Hardik perished soon after showing some promise. Cutting tried his best but it is called a team game for a reason! He took the game deep, muscled a few over the boundary ropes, but the total was a tad too much for him to get it single-handedly. MI fans were heartbroken. They were so near, yet so far. It is in moments like these that you realize the importance of close finishes and results not going your way. It would have been a different story altogether then. But champion sides do not leave anything to luck. The more deserving ones have qualified. Having said that, I still believe, MI should have made the playoffs (at least) and not seeing them in the final four hurts (deeply).
There’s always a ‘next time’ in sports and we do expect MI to come back harder next time. As for this season, may the best team win.