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Mumbai Indians Go To The Gunfight With a Knife; Get Shot Point Blank by Gujarat Titans

Everything that could go wrong went wrong for Mumbai Indians. After conceding 233 in Qualifier 2, practically a semi-final against Gujarat Titans at the belter of a track at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad; MI could not open with Ishan Kishan, owing to an inadvertent hit to his eye by a Chris Jordan elbow, and was substituted by Vishnu Vinod (concussion sub) and by the second over one of MI’s batting lynchpin Cameron Green had to retire out after coping a blow to his elbow from a rising Hardik Pandya delivery.

To makes matters worse, Rohit Sharma skied a back of the length, angling in delivery to Joshua Little who ran in from deep fine to complete an easy catch.

But this is not where things went awry for the five-time champions. The Shubman Gill innings (129 off 60 balls; 7×4 10×6) would very well be blur for the MI bowlers, but if you look back to the moment Gill decided to have fun, it would be the 6th over.

Gill was batting on 21 off 17 till that point. Chris Jordan, the bowler, decided to test Gill with a short-pitch delivery – a 112 kmph cutter, but it turned out be a half-tracker and Gill imperiously pounced on it and hit his first of the ten sixes on the night – that shot by the way was Gill’s first ariel shot of the night.

Gill had settled in, got his eye in and the moment he would have looked to shift gears, he was given a platter to do that. Next delivery, short of length and Gill thumped it through the line to covers.

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David’s Big Miss

For the fourth delivery, Jordan bowled it full and Gill checks his drive and the ball flies to a diving Tim David at mid-on. The ball hits the bucket like hands of David, but the Australian could not hold on and spills it. Gill moved to 30 as the Titans got to their 50/0. And that was the last of the chance Gill would give MI before he eventually fell after a majestic inning of the highest quality.

As good as it was though, Gill’s innings also exposed the fragility of this Mumbai Indians lineup. The fact MI batters have chased down five 200-plus scores this season – the most by any team in IPL history for a single season may make for a good reading for the batters, but not so much for the bowlers.

Lacking Bite Throughout the Season

In fact, MI bowlers have conceded 200 or 200 plus six times, 190 + two times. Before the start of the Qualifier 2 – MI bowling had conceded 2620 runs in the season so far, the highest by any team. This is a telling stat. Despite finishing in the top four, MI actually conceded more runs than the likes of Sunrisers Hyderabad, Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings, who incidentally were the second worst team in this metrics this season. Conversely, MI are on top when it comes to scoring runs with 2592.

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Then again, hindsight is always 20/20, innit?

MI at the start were dented by the unavailability of Jasprit Bumrah, Jhye Richardson and the Jofra Archer injury concern. Their first-choice pace battery was practically wiped out and the onus was always batters to pull this ahead and kudos to them for taking MI to the playoffs.

Probably the one game that the bowlers stood up was the Eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants. Of the four matches that MI won defending it was only the LSG that had a big victory margin – 81 runs.

While Piyush Chawla will return as their best bowler with 22 wickets from 16 games; MI bowling was scratchy all throughout. Failing to buy a solid Indian domestic (capped/uncapped) bowler from the auction and with the injuries, MI had nothing much left to play with.

They started the season with left-armer Arshad Khan and Arjun Tendulkar in the first seven, then gave Aakash Madhwal a go-along with Chris Jordan, for death over duties. Spurted in between were Australian Riley Meredith, and South African Duan Jansen. In the spin bowling department apart from Chawla they had offie Hritik Shokeen, leggie Raghav Goyal got a game and Kumar Kartikeya, who had a rather ineffective season with his left arm.

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Cam Green chipped in 38 overs in 16 matches returning 6 wickets at 60.16 and 9.50. Jason Behrendorff, filling in for Archer was actually hung in there with 14 wickets at 27.64 and an economy of 9.21.

And this dainty attack’s fragilities came to a head on Friday at the Narendra Modi Stadium with the Baby G.O.A.T – Shubman Gill taking MI bowlers to the cleaners. Sai Sudharsan made hay when the sun shone while Hardik Pandya provided the finishing touches.

It felt MI went to a gunfight with a knife.

Their hero from Eliminator Madhwal learned a tough lesson on how brutal IPL can be and how merciless the batters can be. He was good at bowling Yorkers, but Rohit Sharma trusted him enough to give him the middle overs and he thought he could surprise Gill with the short pitch deliveries, but moisture seeped into the track after a good 5-minute spell of rain before the start of the game meant, at his pace, Madhwal’s short stuff just sat up nicely for Gill’s sublime pulls and jabs.

Madhwal, after 3.3-0-5-5 the other night, returned 4-0-52-1. Chawla went at 15 runs per over, Jordan at 14, and Green at 11.66. Only Behrendorff and Kartikeya were unscathed. 233 in a knockout game was always going to be a tough proposition, even for SKY, even for a team that had the most 200+ chases in the season, and that’s what happened. SKY fought hard with 61 off 38 while Tilak Varma only enhanced his reputation with a whirlwind 43 off 20.

Ultimately, it felt like MI went to the gunfight with a knife in hand and got shot, point blank.

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