Over a month and a half after starting a tournament that was shrouded in uncertainty, the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League is set to conclude with a lot of focus on the cricket action. That in itself would count as a success for the logistical battles overcome in getting the tournament underway.
After an entertaining league stage that saw teams fight until the last day to try and go a level up, the second stage has seen a fair level of predictability in the contests, despite the presence of some quality individual performances. And there’s a possibility that the final could feature a similar storyline.
Delhi Capitals have thrice faced Mumbai Indians this season and have been beaten comfortably each time. They’ve still shown themselves to be good enough to reach the final, beating all other teams in the competition at least once. But how can they break their Mumbai jinx? That’s the big question that’ll need answering if we are to see a first-time winner of the title.
A couple of key factors that are necessary to get this going would include how they overcome the Trent Boult threat against the new ball. The top order’s vulnerability against swing has twice pushed Delhi to a point of no return just in the powerplay against Mumbai this season. Taking a cue from what Rajasthan Royals did earlier in the season, if Delhi overcomes this threat, it’d be the first step in exposing some of Mumbai’s vulnerabilities. The latest success of Marcus Stoinis at the top thus adds a new, and untested dimension to this key contest. Will Delhi be ready to push this aggressive intent a little more by making other shuffles in the batting order if necessary, and give MI a taste of their own medicine?
Mumbai’s other big strength is the middle order, anointed as the engine-room which includes the two Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard. More often than not, one of this trio along with a well-set top order batsman has taken the game away from oppositions in the final overs. The scoring rate of 12.68 in the final four overs is unmatched in the history of the IPL. With the stakes raised by one side, the key question remains how the opposition lifts their game.
Yorkers are probably the toughest balls to execute, but if done well, as T Natarajan showed, then even this engine can run out of fuel. Delhi got some of it right against Hardik Pandya in the first qualifier, but the execution-levels were still not at the level required. The focus will be on Rabada, Nortje and their execution of this high-risk but high-reward plan.
The form of Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav, the bluster of Ishan Kishan and the threat of Rohit Sharma besides overcoming Jasprit Bumrah all add to the challenges above. And it’s evident that Delhi will have to bring their best, and then some, to beat one of the finest IPL teams of all-time if they are to clinch their maiden title.