Seeing two talented Indian players stacking up their odds against each other is always a good idea, especially in IPL. However, yesterday, we saw experience winning over enthusiasm as the Mumbai Indians clinched a close victory from Kings XI Punjab. Both the teams had problems which they overcame, but in the end- it was captain vs captain. This time, it was the Mumbai skipper who won the brain game.
In crucial moments of the game, Sharma’s experience won over Ashwin. He used the right resources at the right time, helping his team win the match. On the other hand, Punjab team had to think twice before making any major decisions and this cost them the game. Ashwin looked slightly ill at ease in his role as the captain as his plans kept failing, one after the other.
The Indians invited Punjab to play first. They have a good batting order but the primary pacers at the Indians could manage to keep them at bay. In the beginning, star batsmen for the team. Chris Gayle and KL Rahul managed to hit four fours and three big sixes during the powerplay. However, Mitchell McClenaghan and Jasprit Bumrah ensured that they didn’t score more than 8 runs in an over, troubling the two with great variation. Even as Indore’s pitch is batsmen friendly and the ground is smaller too, the run rate was well within control.
One of the counter-productive decisions by Ashwin during this time was promoting Yuvraj Singh to no. 3. Though he is an explosive batsman, he isn’t in form this season. Chris Gayle went out in the 13th over and Yuvraj struggled to make runs before he was run out. Then Axar Patel was promoted, going to bat before Mayank Agarwal and Marcus Stoinis. The move looked suitable to the team to contain spinners but didn’t work well again. Karun Nair did well and added some useful runs to the score. Bumrah’s two overs were reserved for death overs. However, Hardik Pandya’s last over cost 22 runs to the team as Stoinis went into a full-blown ‘Gayle mode’.
During the bowling attack. Ashwin thought that the Indore pitch provides a sticky wicket. So instead of going heads on with his pacers, he brought in a mix of pace and spin. This worked well in the beginning. In the first six overs, the Indians scored only 39 runs but they lost only 1 wicket. Suryakumar Yadav tried to keep team score moving and scored a 50 off 34 balls. However, even as situations looked grim, the team had a solid batsman in Rohit Sharma.
Ashwin tried to work well with his bowler and despite being a bowler himself, he was unable to ensure a spectacular performance from them. He made several contradictory decisions during this time. Axar Patel could have added more strength to the bowling department, but he delivered just one over. Manoj Tiwary was also given just one game and Yuvraj Singh was retained despite repeated bad performances. Though Mumbai won this time, both the teams have a lot of introspection to be done.