Deconstructing the league stage

The tenth season of the IPL, the tenth season of Mumbai Indians! Motivation and drive wasn’t short on supply as the boys had only one goal in mind – the IPL trophy. After a rigorous and gruelling pre-season camp, the team was roaring to go this season.

We packed our bags and with plenty of fire in our belly set out to face our neighbours, Rising Pune Supergiant. For the first time in 5 years, we had our inaugural game on the road and were keen to bag the win. However, fate would have other ideas. While the batters set up a formidable total, it wasn’t enough. The Pune team bagged the win with a ball to spare.

Setbacks lead to comebacks and there’s nothing quite like the roar of your home fans to get you back on track. The Wankhede was calling and we were determined to put on a show for the fans as the Knight Riders made the trip to the fortress. And the stadium lived up to its ‘fortress’ billing. With 180 the target, we came out all guns blazing but it was a youngster that came to the fore. Nitish Rana announced himself onto the scene with a swashbuckling half century that catalyzed our victory.

Confidence back in the team, we rolled out the red carpet to welcome the defending champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad. And there was a record to maintain – the Hyderabad based outfit have never beaten us on our home turf. It was a thorough, professional display from the boys as they put SRH to the sword. Jasprit Bumrah emerged as Man of the Match for the first time in a Mumbai Indians jersey.

On the road, again! Destination Bengaluru, this time, for a royal challenge on a ground that has been kind to us. And after a stuttering start to a tricky chase, it was the ‘KP’ show that drove us over the line – as Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya put on a fantastic partnership to steady the chase.

Next, to a fixture that we all look forward to – the Education for All game! The annual EFA games saw over 20,000 children in attendance, out with their blue flags and dressed in blue to cheer on the players they call their heroes. There was a different kind of atmosphere in the stadium, and a different level of motivation too, as Gujarat Lions faced the music. Young Nitish Rana once again was on hand to deliver a Man of the Match performance as the children left the stadium overjoyed with their entire experience.

The four-game winning streak kept us on our toes, as we flew out to Indore to face Kings XI Punjab. After a heavy target set to chase down, Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler took the game to the opponents with a barnstorming display that made a seemingly complicated chase look simple. And that momentum continued as the Delhi Daredevils were victims number six of the season courtesy a magnificent Mitchell McClenaghan performance.

RPS were next on the list in the second Maharashtra Derby of the season but alas, things wouldn’t fall our way as we succumbed to our second defeat of the campaign.

We put that defeat behind us as we made the flight to Rajkot in a landmark game. It was the first IPL match that was set to be decided via a Super Over. Cometh the hour, cometh the man! Jasprit Bumrah kept a cool head to put on one of the displays of the season as he managed to defend 12 runs to give us an unforgettable win.

Following which, it was our chance to play hosts to Royal Challengers Bangalore. And it was also skipper Rohit Sharma’s time to step up. The captain put on a match-winning 56 that went a long in way in helping us cement a top spot.

Match 11 in the capital turned out to be a monumental one for us, as we not only recorded the biggest ever win by runs in the IPL but also celebrated a spot in the playoffs. The boys were confident that we set a record that won’t be broken anytime soon.

After spending the bulk of our campaign batting second, it was time for an experiment as we opted to bat first against Sunrisers Hyderabad. But the experiment would ultimately fail, but what emerged was a learning experience on a slow track.

We concluded our set of home league games against the Kings XI Punjab in what turned out to be a run-fest. With 231 runs the target, the boys came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders. Every ball was a thriller, every moment to be savoured as we took the game by its horns. But the effort was just not enough, as victory and a record was just out of reach.

We saw curtains drawn on the league stage with a win over Kolkata Knight Riders at their own ground. It was a game that saw us chop and change the line-up, and marked our return to form with the win. Mr. Dependable Ambati Rayudu grabbed the headlines with a remarkable performance to give us much needed momentum heading into the playoffs. It was a win that saw us become the first ever T20 side to rack up 100 victories, and also sealed a spot for us at the very summit of the table.

The league stage has been a successful one, and we’re not done just yet. With plenty of records already broken this season, we’re also hoping to become the first ever team to secure three IPL titles.

 

 


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