In the very first over, Mumbai Indians lost its opener Rohit Sharma (6 runs) after winning the toss and deciding to bat first in Sharjah against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The joy was short-lived for the Hyderabad bowlers for the remaining 19 overs in the game as they couldn’t cope with the absence of senior most pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Quinton de Kock was the highest scorer (69 off just 39 with four 4s and four 6s) of the match but the South African opener was adequately supported by several fiery cameos by Suryakumar Yadav (27 off 18), Ishan Kishan, (31 off 23) Kieron Pollard, (28 off 19) and Hardik Pandya (25 off 13). However, it was Krunal Pandya’s 20 (6, 4, 4 and 6) in just four balls that seem to have demoralised the SRH camp even before they could start batting.
“I was just thinking of scoring maximum runs off those four balls. Haven’t batted much this season and wanted to make most of it. Eventually it’s a team game. The way Hardik and Pollard have gone at the back end, I had to wait for my opportunity,” said Krunal Pandya after the match.
The haplessness of Sunrisers can be gauged from the fact that New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson was asked to bowl (only for the second time in 44 IPL matches). However, it was Williamson’s Kiwi team-mate from the opposite camp, Trent Boult, who was adjudged Man of the match for his 2 for 28 in his four overs.
Australian James Pattinson too had the almost same kind of impact (two top order wickets for just 29 runs) with the ball for MI. “It’s (slower balls) not something I’m known for. I’m trying to swing the ball as much as I can, you just got to be confident with what you are trying to do. I try to use my angles, both over the wicket and round the wicket and have a bit of fun,” said Man of the Match Trent Boult after the match.
Except for the powerplay overs (SRH were 56 for 1 while MI were 48 for 2), David Warner’s side could never seem to compete in the chase of 206. During middle overs (7-15), SRH could only score 83 for the loss of 3 wickets, MI had scored 88 for loss of 2 wickets. The death overs run-making comparison was most decisive as Mumbai typically hammered 61 runs for the loss of a solitary wicket, SRH had almost given up (35 runs for 3 wickets) as they lost the match by a huge margin of 34 runs.
“The stats do tell the tale, their two most experienced bowlers, they bowled well towards the end and we couldn't target the fence. They had runs on the board and we were left chasing at 10 RPO - we didn’t string partnerships together to take the chase deeper. It wasn't easy to start off (while batting), lack of partnerships as I said, losing wickets back-to-back isn't ideal,” lamented the SRH skipper after the match.
Ultimately, the contest was always supposed to be won by the team which would hit more sixes which Mumbai did by a distance. Mumbai may have not been happy with just 14 sixes in an innings despite such an explosive batting line-up and shorter boundaries of Sharjah, it was still a herculean target to match as SRH could manage only 7 sixes.
Apart from Warner’s fifty, a stunning catch by Manish Pandey (one of the best of all-time) was the only thing that Hyderabad would like to remember from this match.
The third win in this season in five matches has also ensured MI - a 24-hour stay at the top of the points table - which is likely to see either Delhi Capitals or Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday night.
(Vimal Kumar is a senior sports journalist who has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. Vimal is also the author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide.)Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here