Try they did, and win they did by a margin of 42 runs, but in the end, it was always a bridge too far for Mumbai Indians, even by their penchant for shocks and surprises, to cross. They posted the highest total of an unusually low-scoring season—235/9—but couldn’t restrict Sunrisers Hyderabad to 65 or less, the play-off sealing cut-off mark.

Power player

For close to an hour, Ishan Kishan offered a peep into the future of batting in the T20s. Maybe, how it would be like in 2040, or well in 2030, batting with the faintest regard to the get-your-eye-in fundamental. He strode in, marked his guard, picked his spots and began unfurling a torrent of leg-side strokes, ensuing in an exhibition of sheer power. Like it is playstation cricket.

Behind the no-holds-barred aggression was obviously desperation—Mumbai needed a miracle no less. And Kishan seemed that miracle worker. Until he perished, tamely edging a catch to the keeper for 84 off 32 balls, he emitted boundaries and hope.

Scorecard – #VIVOIPL

The first ball he faced, he knelt on one knee and thumped Mohammad Nabi over deep mid-wicket. It was but a trailer to the action thriller that was to play out in Abu Dhabi. In the next over, Siddarth Kaul was torn apart with four successive fours. In such mood of unbridled violence, he was not to spare anyone. Nabi, neither extracting turn nor finding a suitable length, was smeared for a brace of boundaries more. Next came Jason Holder with his trundlers—his first over bled 22 runs, of which 16 came off Kishan’s thundering willow, the last of the three fours, to go with a slogged-six, ushering in his fifty off just 16 balls, the fastest of this year’s IPL.

Together, he and Rohit Sharma put on 78 in five overs, and even though Rashid Khan ejected Sharma, MI had blitzed to 83/1 in six overs. Kishan didn’t spare the nippy Umran Malik or the stifling Rashid Khan either, heaving and hoisting them through the on-side. It was pure leg-side carnage.

Touch player

His lean run under scrutiny, Suryakumar Yadav produced a marvellous knock, fusing power and sophistry, reviving his form as well as fuelling MI to an indomitable total. It was a throwback to the previous season, when he could not strum an out-of-pitch tune even if he wanted to. He hardly resembled a man on a lean patch—he deliciously pulled the first ball he faced for a four, though Jason Holder’s clumsy fielding deserved blame for the boundary. More emphatic, though, was the paddle-scooped four off Kaul.

Watch that stunning innings 🎥 🔽

The strokes were enough for Yadav to settle down and sustain the deafening tempo provided by Kishan. The run-rate had slumped a fraction—from 15 when Kishan was batting to 12 when MI lost Kieron Pollard and Jimmy Neesham off Abhishek Sharma’s successive balls. But Yadav soon unleashed a cyclone that blew away SRH bowlers. He was then 16 off 12 balls. Before he got stuck on the helmet by Malik off the penultimate ball of the 19th over, he had raced away to 82 off 35 balls, that is 62 off 23 balls.

8⃣4⃣ Runs 3⃣2⃣ Balls 1⃣1⃣ Fours 4⃣ Sixes

Watch that stroke-filled innings 🎥 👇

Unlike Kishan, he doesn’t have too many preferences. When in mood, he could hit the ball wherever he whims, to whichever ball he wants. Most unbelievable was his six off Holder’s near-wide yorker. Yadav premeditated and shuffled across, Holder went wider, Yadav strayed even wider and shovelled him over his head. In the next over, he reverse-paddled Malik past the keeper, the first of a hat-trick of fours just before Malik pinged his helmet. In between, there were classical cover drives and flicks. Post blow, however, Yadav was not quite himself and departed in the last over.

Elusive miracle

For all the thoroughbreds in their stable, containing SRH below 65 was always bound to be an elusive jackpot. As fate had it, or perhaps the inhuman pressure on their shoulders, they fumbled at the starting block. It began with Jason Roy taking on Jasprit Bumrah, his first two overs costing 26 runs. Trent Boult failed to bend the ball back into the right-hander while an ill-advised move to entrust Piyush Chawla the third over turned out to be a strategic faux pas, his over costing 16 runs. Abhishek Sharma tucked into Nathan Coulter-Nile, as SRH stormed to 60/0 in five overs. By the time the bowlers recovered, the playoff spot had drowned beyond the horizon.

Good news, though, for Team India, two of its underfire batsmen have revived just at the right time.

Sandip G… read more

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