Ever since it won its maiden trophy in 2011 — the now-defunct Champions League T20, every odd year has been a success for Mumbai Indians. Except for the last digit, nothing’s been even about 2020 anyway. No wonder then that Rohit Sharma’s bunch of boys reigned supreme and defended the IPL crown for the very first time to bag a record fifth title.
As much as it was pleasing to see MI make a meat of Delhi Capitals in a final that was far from thrilling, the MI camp was the only dominant unit right through the tournament. One can’t associate the cliche of “deserving champion” better than Mumbai Indians when it comes to its IPL 2020 triumph.
What went wrong
Virtually nothing. Seldom does a franchise tick all the boxes in a tournament as weird as IPL where too many games come thick and fast. In such a format, it’s extremely difficult for a team — and a bunch of individuals — to be consistent all through the tournament.
Mumbai Indians managed to do just that. If one has to pick a negative, it would be its inability to close out the Super Overs. Rohit Sharma and Co. featured in three Super Overs over two games, including a double Super Over versus Kings XI Punjab. Not once did it cross the line in the tie-breaker. But none of these losses eventually mattered in the larger scheme of things as MI literally steamrolled to the top of the points table in the league stage and then to its fifth crown.
Sticking to the tried and tested combination was the key to MI’s success in IPL 2020. Despite the success mantra of “never change the winning combination”, T20 teams, especially in IPL, find it difficult thanks to overemphasis on data. But Mumbai Indians did it to perfection, using only 15 players — the least for a winning franchise in an IPL season — over 16 games.
It led to Trent Boult emerging at his lethal best in the Powerplays, freeing Jasprit Bumrah to strangle the opposition in the middle and death overs.
The biggest positive, however, was the two uncapped domestic batsmen in its high-profile batting line-up delivering consistently. Suryakumar Yadav — who became the first uncapped cricketer to tally 2,000 IPL runs during the tournament — was one of the success stories of the tournament.
And the fact that Ishan Kishan, the diminutive dynamo, emerged as MI’s highest run-getter with 516 runs (13 more than Quinton de Kock and 36 ahead of Yadav), underlined how at times showing confidence in a player’s abilities results in reaping rich dividends. So consistent, innovative and versatile were Yadav and Kishan in their strokeplay that the cricketing world would perhaps continue discussing their exploits beyond IPL in the near future.
In a campaign that has been — if not perfect — near-perfect, the biggest question that loomed was the manner in which captain Rohit Sharma’s injury was managed.
Mumbai Indians did release an update on his fitness on October 23, stating he hurt himself during the double Super Over tie on October 18. But then on, till the end of the tournament, the franchise and the batsman maintained a silence, thus rising speculation amidst fans over the exact nature of Rohit’s fitness.
No doubt the BCCI cannot get away for keeping the suspense going for a fortnight after omitting Rohit from the Australia tour, but the franchise and the player himself should have catered to its vast base of loyal supporters by coming clean on the captain’s fitness status.
The hero: Trent Boult
Matches: 15; wickets: 25; best bowling: 4/18; average: 18.28; economy rate: 7.97; strike rate: 13.76; four-wicket hauls: 1