Five Standout performers
1) Yadav comes of age
In the 2011 Champions League T20, Suryakumar Yadav turned out for Mumbai Indians in two games — against Somerset and Royal Challengers Bangalore. He averaged an impressive 47 in that campaign. Seven years on, Yadav got a chance to represent the franchise once again. And he made it count. He had already established himself as a lower middle-order batsman for Kolkata Knight Riders, turning heads with his innovative hitting. When the MI management asked him to take up the opener’s role, Yadav happily obliged. The task was a big one, but Yadav’s adaptability came to the fore. In his very first outing as an opener, Yadav put on 102 runs in the company of Evin Lewis. They needed just nine overs to do so. Yadav scored a quick-fire fifty and laid the platform for the likes of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and others to come out and take over. Two games later, he produced a sublime knock against Rajasthan Royals. The 72-run knock, his best in the shortest format, was studded with sweetly-timed strokes. He never looked back after that. When we needed to win to stay alive, Yadav scored a measured fifty against Kings XI Punjab in Indore. He continued his fine form when we returned home by smashing a 39-ball 59 against KKR. His 512 runs are testimony to his class and, perhaps, temperament. Yadav also became the first uncapped Indian player ever to aggregate more than 500 runs in a season. Is he the best batsman around to have never represented the national side?
Suryakumar’s wrist work was fantastic in VIVO IPL 2018
2) Newcomer Markande turns heads
At 5’ 7”, Mayank Markande casts a long shadow. Playing ahead of Rahul Chahar, Markande had a lot to prove when he earned his first cap against Chennai Super Kings in the season opener. But it didn’t take him long to become the talking point of the tournament. That’s what happens when you get MS Dhoni plumb in front of the stumps. Markande also removed Ambati Rayudu to return figures of 3/23 on debut. He bettered that performance when we met Sunrisers Hyderabad a few days later. This time, Wriddhiman Saha, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey and Shakib Al Hasan fell prey to ‘Magician Mayank.’ In the return leg, he bagged Mohammed Nabi and Basil Thampi with figures of 2/15 in three overs. The impressive part about his leg-spin is that Markande bowls all his variations with minimal change in action and arm speed. This makes him threatening. Most batsmen played for the leg-break and got tricked when the ball came in. Markande, who featured in every match this season, picked up 15 wickets to become a household name.
Ambati Rayudu was Mayank Markande’s first victim in the tournament
3) All-round Pandya shows his class
He is forever improving. Year after after, Hardik Pandya keeps adding muscle to his big chops and seam-ups. He has become an even cleaner hitter of the ball. Apart from this, he clocks the 140-kph mark on a consistent basis. This season, he did both on a consistent basis. Apart from his lusty blows down the order, Hardik also became one of Rohit Sharma’s go-to men with the ball. He came up with a big performance at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on May 1, first running out Brendon McCullum and then picking up three crucial wickets including that of Virat Kohli. Hardik also fought a lone battle in the chase, scoring 50 runs in a losing cause. At one point, Hardik was also the tournament’s leading wicket-taker. The Baroda all-rounder finished the campaign with 260 runs and 18 wickets, becoming one of only two players to pick more than 15 wickets and score 200 runs this season.
Hardik Pandya became Rohit Sharma’s go-to-man
4) Lewis sizzles at the top
Rewind to the semifinal of the 2013 Champions League T20. Mumbai Indians vs Trinidad and Tobago. Lewis smashed a 46-ball 62 and grabbed the eyeballs for his clean-hitting against spin, a rare sight for an overseas player playing in India. From there, he went on to earn the reputation of being a T20 specialist with consistent performances in the Bangladesh Premier League, Caribbean Premier League and, of course, those twin hundreds against India at the highest level. The opener took a while to get into the groove but he soon rediscovered his mojo and became a treat to watch. He smacked 24 sixes, the most by an MI player this season. He played a big hand in our first win of the season, scoring 65 runs, including five maximums, against RCB at Wankhede Stadium. Lewis faced criticism for consuming a lot of dot balls in the Powerplay but made up for it by finding the fence on a regular basis. His season strike-rate of 138.4 is proof of the same. Lewis scored a couple of quick 40s against CSK and KKR to help MI win both matches. His 60 against Rajasthan Royals was overshadowed by Jos Buttler’s knock. He finished the campaign with 382 runs, the second most for us this season.
Evin Lewis scored 382 runs in his first-ever VIVO IPL season
5) Spearhead Bumrah eases into new role
When he started playing for MI, Jasprit Bumrah had Lasith Malinga and other senior players to look up to. He wasn’t the team’s main strike bowler. With Malinga taking up the role of bowling mentor, Bumrah was expected to rise to the occasion and lead the pack. And he did exceptionally well by finishing with 17 wickets. To him, bowling dot balls is like eating bread and butter. The right-armer enhanced his reputation this season by bowling as many as 133 dots, second only to Umesh Yadav. Not to forget, Bumrah bowled most of his overs at the death. His economy rate of 6.88 was the best for any bowler who played all 14 league games this season. Bumrah was consistent throughout the campaign, going wicketless in only two games. His most memorable performance came against Kings XI Punjab when he saved us from the jaws of defeat and returned with figures of 3/15, including the prize scalp of an unstoppable KL Rahul. Bumrah was clinical with the new ball and very dependable at the death. His slower balls dipped on the batsmen who found it difficult to score runs. While defending totals, Bumrah bowled the 17th and 19th overs on several occasions and stepped up in style.
Jasprit Bumrah was spot on at the death in VIVO IPL 2018