Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 3 December 2020

IPL

IPL 2020: Mumbai Indians crowned champions for the fifth time after comprehensive win in Dubai

Rohit Sharma's team defeat Delhi Capitals by five wickets on Tuesday

New normal, same old Mumbai Indians.

In a world riven by uncertainty, it has felt all of this side as though the IPL’s most successful side amounted to the closest thing to dead certs.

A season that started in quarantine and in exile, continued in a bubble, and was completed with fireworks being set off for an audience of nil, reached the most predictable denouement.

Mumbai cruised to a fourth easy win against Delhi Capitals in the season, to seal their title defence, and a fifth IPL title in the space of eight seasons.

They did their best to mix things up. They did it in an “even” year for the first time. They did it chasing in the final for the first time.

And their heroes were not the same old faces. Ishan Kishan, an uncapped Indian, was their rock with the bat.

Similarly uncelebrated Suryakumar Yadav was a hero, right down to sacrificing his own wicket for that of his captain in the final.

That small dropped stitch apart, realistically it was a cruise for Mumbai, who won by five wickets with eight balls left over.

Were it not for the dogged resistance of Shreyas Iyer, the Delhi captain, and Rishabh Pant, victory would have arrived even sooner.

Given the impact Marcus Stoinis had in the qualifier two days earlier against Sunrisers Hyderabad, it was maybe no surprise Delhi persisted with him opening the batting.

It was also a new ploy against this particular opposition: Mumbai had waltzed to three wins against Delhi earlier in the season, with Stoinis in the middle order.

But it was always going to be a risk exposing him to Trent Boult when the ball was most likely to swing. As it turned out, he lasted just one ball, as the holders made a blistering start.

He was caught behind by Quinton de Kock. In the third over, Ajinkya Rahane was strangled down the legside by Boult. And once Shikhar Dhawan missed a straight ball from Jayant Yadav in the fourth over, Delhi were mired at 22-3, and the game as good as lost.

Recent form suggested the game was gone. At the crease were two struggling players. Iyer had done well earlier in campaign, but the business end of it had been lean. Pant had just been average all the way through.

And yet their resistance was courageous. Their counter attack brought them a 96-run partnership, with Pant looking like the player of previous seasons as he made 56 from 38 balls.

Iyer, for his part, batted through the innings for 65 not out. But the innings was undermined by its bookends: the last five overs brought just 38 runs, and Dhawan was the only player to make double figures outside of the Iyer-Pant alliance.

Chasing 157 to win never felt like it was going to over-taxing for the defending champions.

Once Rohit Sharma and De Kock started the reply, it was clear it was going to be a rout. They raced to 45 for no loss off the first four overs.

At least Stoinis tried his best to make amends, taking the wicket of the hitherto rampant De Kock with his first ball.

Rohit, though, continued the assault. His 68, which featured four sixes, was the clearest sign yet that he is back to fitness after the hamstring injury that kept him out at the end of the group phase.

He lost Suryakumar to a chaotic run out, and himself fell to a brilliant diving catch by a substitute fielder, Lalit Yadav, off a slower-ball by Anrich Nortje.

There were a few stutters before the job was done. But, fittingly, Kishan was there when victory was sealed, carrying off a stump for a souvenir of the night he helped his side become just the second – after Chennai Super Kings – to retain an IPL title.

Updated: November 10, 2020 11:03 PM

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