The Ishan-Surya show, and why it shall be forever cherished

It had been one of those nights for the Mumbai Indians fans where their emotions sat on a rollercoaster driven by the eleven players who took the field to play their final league game of IPL 2021.

Mumbai Indians came in with playoff stakes placed strongly against them - needing a 171-run win in the last game, against SRH, to make the cut. The numbers looked mammoth, but the belief that came into the game with the Men in Blue and Gold was even bigger.

The intent from word go

Rohit takes a single to open MI’s innings. The next thing we know, it’s Mohammed Nabi to Ishan Kishan - SIX! And that is how the MI onslaught started against SRH. In the over after that, Ishan sent the ball down the boundary four times, and after that, there was no doubt of the intent behind the game.

For any of you who had any doubts about this being planned, Ishan cleared the air after the first innings. “I think the intent was clear for us. We knew we needed to score somewhere around 250 to get them out for 70 odd. Plan was simple,” he said.

And how well did he execute it that night for the Men in Blue and Gold!

The Ishan blitz had just begun with that 18-run second over against SRH. He followed that up for a couple of more fours in the third over, and a six and two more fours in the fourth over got the Pocket Dynamo a brilliant half century.

Ishan’s 50* had come off just 16 deliveries - a feat that made it into the record books for multiple reasons. He now holds the record for the fastest fifty in IPL for the Men in Blue and Gold. Ishan’s shining knock also put him at the top of the list of names for the fastest fifty in IPL in the UAE.

The sheer confidence with which the youngster struck the ball was enough to put a smile on the fans' faces. Not to forget, the concern of having a thin form seemed to be ebbing away for all India fans after two back-to-back fifties with a strike rate of 200 or more from Ishan.

The 23-year old went on to score 84 (32), with 11 fours and four well-hit maximums at a humongous strike rate of 262.5. His innings not only gave MI a ray of hope, but for the rest of the team a reason to believe for a spot in the top four. Why, it even had the KKR fans praying hard to stop him from going all out!

Carrying the baton forward

Once Ishan had done his part, it was time for the middle order to do its work. Hardik Pandya came in at an upgraded third position, followed by Kieron Pollard, to up the run rate. It looked like SRH were prepared for this, but it was Suryakumar Yadav’s arrival that put them on the back foot once again.

Surya, coming in at number five, played a knock that ensured MI reached a total they never had before. Much like Ishan, he also got off the mark with a boundary bringing him four immediate runs and fully showing the intent with which he’d taken the field.

Coming in at the fall of Ishan’s wicket, he steadied himself a little bit before going all out. In the first three overs he played, he moved to 16* (12), before freeing himself with a four and a six off consecutive balls off Kaul’s over to begin the onslaught.

Surya came in when MI were at 124/3 in the 10th over of the game. Despite wickets falling at the other end, Surya, once he steadied himself, blitzed to his half century in just 24 balls. His innings, built craftily and on exceptional skill had viewers in awe of how smoothly he’d send one off down the boundary.

With two overs to go in the game, it was SKY vs SRH, with MI being 7-down and only bowlers giving Surya some assistance to put up a competitive total. Surya added 12 more runs in the 19th over before being clonked on the helmet by an Umran Malik delivery.

In the final over, SKY departed after a special knock of 82 (40), helping MI stack up 235/9 - their best team total ever.

The Ishan-Surya duo became the first pair to score over 75 runs at a 200+ run-rate for the Men in Blue and Gold. In the history of IPL itself, there have been only 19 of those instances, and given the hope this knock gave for the MI fans and the fear it placed in KKR fans, it will be a special one, indeed.

While MI did not make it to the playoffs, this intent, this fighting spirit, and most importantly, the two men who came out all guns blazing, stood out throughout the match. Though the team did not make it into the playoffs, the fearless batting performance resonated with Mumbai Indians' brand of cricket and what this team stands for.

Ishan and Surya will forever remain fan favourites, and this epic batting display was just one of the reasons why they are so loved by the fans. It will always be a pleasure to watch them bat, and this knock will always be one to cherish!