Quinton de Kock finds his bearings in MI colours

Mumbai Indians’ fourth Indian Premier League (IPL) title conquest was an all-round team effort that saw every member of the squad as well as coaching and support staff contribute to our triumph. Winning the competition made us the most successful side in IPL history and in true MI tradition, we had more than our fair share of young revelations as well as a few familiar faces coming of age.

Whether it’s Rahul Chahar’s mature spin bowling, Alzarri Joseph registering the best-ever bowling figures (6 for 12) in IPL history on debut or Hardik Pandya’s consistency; MI are spoiled for choice when looking for standout performers of the season. One individual who well and truly had a significant impact at a crucial position for MI this year is Quinton de Kock.

A lot was expected from the South African wicket-keeper leading into the IPL and it’s safe to say that he didn’t disappoint. Not many experts would have expected de Kock to be as big a success as he was with MI this year and it’s easy to understand why when one looks back at his previous seasons in the IPL. From 2013 to 2018, de Kock’s average in the IPL was 29.90. This season has seen him averaging 35.26 with MI at a strike rate of 132.91.

At the start of the tournament, de Kock spoke of his determination to get runs for MI this season. “I think playing in this tournament, I am very determined to score a lot of runs whether it is against RCB, Delhi, Sunrisers wherever (doesn’t matter). I am always determined to contribute towards the team and just get the team over to the winning side, that is what my goal is and what I am going to try and do,” he said ahead of our first clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Fast track to May 12 and de Kock has ended IPL 2019 as MI’s leading run-getter and is third in the chart for most runs (529) by any player. He was our most consistent performer in the top order and made four half-centuries with a highest score of 81. As the season progressed, de Kock and skipper Rohit Sharma also developed good understanding as openers – a good omen for the future – and gave us several solid starts to launch from.

“Rohit and I are very flexible (in our approach). We both assess the situation as it is. When he’s scoring all the boundaries, I try to give him all the strike and when I’m scoring the boundaries, he gives me the strike. So, we just try to read the situation and if we’re both scoring runs then so be it, we’re both scoring runs. You know then there’s no real game-plan, we just do it naturally together,” de Kock explained ahead of our match against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede.

Their approach proved to be effective throughout the tournament as they provided us with numerous solid starts. However, it was a pity that both openers fell in quick succession in the final having given us a good start once again. The South African, especially, looked in the mood and had hit CSK’s bowlers for four sixes before perishing in the fifth over after making 29 from 17 balls.

Another area of his game that’s gone under the radar this season is his ability behind the stumps. MI have used a few part-time wicket-keepers in the past, but de Kock’s addition has seen a major improvement in that area. This was, of course, evident throughout the campaign and the acquisition of de Kock from Royal Challengers Bangalore in a trade worth his auction price of INR 2.8 crore has proven to be a masterstroke. His consistency this season though won’t just be integral to MI’s triumph in the present, but he can also go on to be a corner stone of #OneFamily for years to come.