Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - MI's class of 2018 make an exuberant exit. In a below-par season, Ishan Kishan saved his best for MI's most crucial match
In a below-par season, Ishan Kishan saved his best for MI's most crucial match
Piyush Chawla didn't have the greatest of starts on his debut for Mumbai Indians. In his very first over for the franchise on Friday (October 8), he was taken apart for 16 runs. Even though there was some kind of redemption at one point in the form of a solitary wicket, he still endured a rough outing to finish his short MI career on a disappointing note. But Chawla's case is pretty much an exception because not many players donning the blue jersey of MI over the last four years have had dull returns.
More than half the players to have represented MI in the 2018-2021 cycle have played a major role in the franchise's ascendancy to the top of the IPL summit. There is a serious case to label this the world's greatest T20 squad ever given their dominance and only a few saw this coming after their first season post the big auction in 2018. The defending champions couldn't make it to the playoffs back then but went on to top the points tally over the next two editions, winning both of them.
MI's scouting team has always received plaudits over the years for unearthing the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and the Pandya brothers. When they decided to invest big on young Ishan Kishan ahead of the 2018 season, eyebrows were raised. To make matters worse, he averaged only 22.91 in his first season and followed it up with a poor show in 2019 where he averaged only 16.83. But fast-forward two years, Kishan is not only a superstar in that MI setup, he has also made his senior debut for India and is in the 15-man squad for the upcoming T20 WC.
On Friday, it was the 23-year-old who was once again at the forefront of MI's audacious last-ditch attempt to make it to the playoffs. Chawla's former franchise Kolkata Knight Riders were breathing easy the moment the legspinner bowled an expensive over. They knew it was only a matter of time before their place in the playoffs were sealed. It was destined to be sealed the moment they thrashed Rajasthan Royals in their final game. But as the saying goes, it's never over until it's over. Especially with a franchise like MI, you just never know.
Not many fans would have wanted to keep tabs on a team that had to beat their opposition by 170 plus runs. But when that team is MI, even the pessimists would be keen to see just what Rohit Sharma's men come up with. And they certainly didn't disappoint. With their backs against the wall following a poor campaign, MI came out all guns blazing in the final game in their quest to fetch a total beyond 250. Kishan smashed his first ball for a six and never looked back. Four consecutive boundaries followed in the second over and by the time the fourth got over, he raised a 16-ball fifty.
For a moment, RCB and DC would have forgiven even their ardent supporters for not following their game that was being played concurrently in Dubai. In all honesty, those fans had reasons to be concerned looking at the larger picture because they would have been sick of the sight of MI making it to the last four again. And when 83 came off the powerplay, everyone knew something special might unfold. Not like it hasn't been done before by this group of players. Just when you count them out, they manage to find a way.
When Rohit departed, in came Hardik at number 3. When Hardik failed to make a mark, Kieron Pollard entered the scene. When he too failed to get going, MI sent in Suryakumar Yadav. Giving up was just not an option with the factory churning out one great talent after another. If it was Kishan at the start of the innings, Suryakumar stole the limelight towards the end smashing an incredible 40-ball 82. If only one among Hardik, Pollard or Rohit had made a contribution in that middle phase, 300 would have been a real possibility on the night. Instead, MI had to settle for a ‘mere' 235.
That total was never going to be enough unless two or three early strikes were made with the new ball. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Not that this world class attack wasn't capable of bowling an opposition out for less than 65 but the hopes of a miracle died down as early as in the powerplay of SRH's run chase much to the relief of at least four teams.
Despite scoring a combined 166 runs off just 72 balls, the stunning efforts of Kishan and Suryakumar were not enough. These two batters have been key architects behind MI's success, strengthening a batting order that already had Rohit, Hardik and Pollard before their arrival in 2018. Add Quinton de Kock, who had made 500 plus runs in 2019 and 2020, to the mix and you have the most intimidating batting lineup ever assembled in IPL history.
With the mega auction coming up again, one thing's for certain. These six batters are unlikely to pad up for the same team again. Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya, two players who also made their debut for India during the 2018-2021 cycle like Kishan and Suryakumar, will also likely find themselves turning up in different colours. Trent Boult might not get to share the new ball with Bumrah either.
With all these players set to spark a bidding war in the upcoming auction, MI know that bringing the band back together is a near impossible task. When the realisation hit hard that the era was eventually coming to an end, the defending champions decided to give it all one last time instead of throwing in the towel. The fact that only one franchise amongst the eight were backed to even remotely entertain thoughts of achieving mission impossible on Friday tells you all that you need to know about MI. The class of 2018 truly bowed out with a bang.