“My mother can also lead this Australian side,” was quipped by former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns while talking about the great Australian team of the 90s and 2000s, winning three consecutive ICC World Cup titles Roast in Test cricket. The Australian team had an aura of invincibility all around them, a by-product of the unique talent present in that store. It was a team that ticked every box and the opposition failed to find a chime in its armor. (IPL 2020 full coverage)
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A man who knows all about that feeling of invincibility is a man who defeated this party of the world for the majority of his storied days under the sun. Ricky Ponting was the Australian captain in those days and he felt something similar from the opposing camp after his wards were prepared for the final of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2020) on Tuesday.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians have defeated Ponting’s Delhi Capitals three times this season and they have a side that is full of match winners, each wanting to beat the opposition with a box. But the Capitals should be credited for rapidly recovering from a sucker punch in Qualifier 1 as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad en masse to enter their first IPL final.
But bringing Mumbai into the past will be a task. Apart from Rohit Sharma, every Mumbai batsman is in form. De Kock can outplay the bowlers in Powerplay. Suryakumar has been the antithesis of cunning and aggression, while Ishaan Kishan, Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard have tormented the bowlers in between. Pandya in particular looks like a baseball striker, ready to hit every delivery for the homerun. Kishan is a deceptive middle-order batsman, often providing the ideal launchpad for Pandya and Pollard. Not to forget the keeper-batsman who has hit the major sixes in the tournament so far.
In bowling, Bolt’s craft in the powerplay and Bumrah’s machine-like accuracy have created a feared pairing, thanks to DC himself, who traded the defending champion to New Joseander before the start of the season. While Bumrah and Bolt have taken wickets, Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya have impressed with their spin.
But the fifth bowler leaked the runs. Both Pattinson and Coulter-Nile have become expensive and Delhi need only target this weak-link.
The decision to open with Marcus Stoinis in the eliminator added much needed to top the Delhi batsmen and the return of Shimron Hetmyer helped to solve the death over issue. Shikhar Dhawan has been the team’s most consistent batsman this season and will be the legendary star of India to capture the title. Skipper Shreyas Iyer needs to bat more freely and so is Delhi’s out and out match winner Rishabh Pant, who has performed brilliantly this season.
Delhi’s bowling was beyond normal in Qualifier 1 and the likes of Rabada, Nortje and Axar will have to pull up their socks and have another go at the rocket-launcher of the Mumbai Indians. Ashwin, who was influential in the qualifiers, will once again play a key role and could be crucial with his powerplay overs.
Delhi knows they don’t have much to lose. He has already created a small history for himself by making his debut in the final and Mumbai is the favorite to retain the title. Thus, a little thrill from Ponting’s men may be just the tonic they need to turn the table at heavyweight.
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