Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 5 December 2020

IPL

IPL 2020: how Mumbai Indians won their fifth title and became one of the greatest T20 teams of all time

From critical performances by Trent Boult and Suryakumar Yadav to robust support structure and local knowledge, it was a clinical effort from Rohit Sharma's team

First in the points table. The defending champions. The most successful side in IPL history, and captained by the most decorated player to play in the competition.

It is a wonder the rest of the teams bothered to turn up at all, given how dominant Mumbai Indians have become in cricket’s biggest tournament.

After claiming their fifth title in eight seasons with a five-wicket win on Tuesday night, Kieron Pollard suggested they have a fair claim to being considered the leading T20 side ever.

So, what was it about this season in the UAE that set them apart?

Signing Boult

Not content with winning the tournament itself more often than not, Mumbai have also dominated the transfer market.

Ahead of this season they brought in Trent Boult from Delhi, on a contract of around $450,000. That was an absolute steal.

They already had Jasprit Bumrah. Pairing him up with Boult was almost unfair on opposition openers.

The irony was that it was Boult who extinguished his old side’s hopes of a maiden title, when he shot out Marcus Stoinis with the first ball of the final.

“Getting early wickets in a high-pressure game is always nice,” Rohit Sharma, the captain and six-time IPL champion, said.

“That is something we wanted to do, and when you have the best new-ball bowler in your squad, why not just go with that?

“Boulty, throughout the season, has been brilliant for us. So was Bumrah. They were the ones who kept us in the game most of the time.”

The background guys

They have the highest brand value of any franchise in cricket. They are owned by one of the world’s richest people.

They are led by the most decorated player in IPL history, and they have two serving international captains – Quinton de Kock and Kieron Pollard – besides.

There are all-time greats all over their support staff list – Mahela Jayawardene, head coach, Shane Bond, bowling coach, and Sachin Tendulkar, batting mentor.

And yet the team functions because of all of its parts, not just a flash few.

Fielding coach James Pamment was in temporary charge of United States in a series in Nepal before lockdown happened.

Robin Singh, Mumbai’s batting coach, oversaw UAE winning the Western Region T20 in a final against Kuwait in February.

And their two star batsman – Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan – have not yet come close to being capped by India.

“Mumbai Indians have worked all these years to make sure there are not just one or two guys we are dependent on,” Rohit said.

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IPL 2020 Dream XI

No 3 is key

Batting first drop carries with it a variety of challenges. So Suryakumar’s haul of 480 runs, at a strike rate of 145, was exceptional.

“Surya is someone who has taken his game on to another level now,” Rohit said.

“We all have witnessed that during this tournament. One good thing that struck me was his tempo. He has been maintaining that when he has come to bat, and hasn’t got stuck, no matter who’s batting, or how many wickets have fallen in front of him.

“That is a good sign of a quality player, when a batsman can keep rotating strike, keep hitting those boundaries. It makes the job easier for the non-striker, and the team looks in a comfortable position as well.

“No 3 is a very crucial position in any team, and Surya has done that extremely well for us.

“He understands his game really well now. He is here to make it big, and we can see that happening.”

Local knowledge

Suffice to say, living for 80 days in a bio-secure bubble must have had its tough moments, no matter how plush their base at the St Regis on Saadiyat Island was.

And yet, perhaps more than any other side, Mumbai would have felt at home away from home.

As one of just two sides based in Abu Dhabi – Kolkata Knight Riders were the other – they basically had the run of the facilities at Zayed Cricket Stadium whenever they required, including during the time in the lead up when they were officially still in quarantine.

Eight of their 16 matches were played in Abu Dhabi – so a similar rate to the amount of home games they would have in a normal season, anyway.

Plus they had the benefit of some local expertise. Singh, the batting coach, has also been the UAE coach since February, while Zahoor Khan, the national team fast-bowler, assisted them in training for much of the tournament.

Updated: November 11, 2020 02:49 PM

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