IPL 2017, Qualifier 1, Mumbai May 16, 2017

How Pune filled a Stokes-sized hole

Aakash Chopra analyses tactics from the first qualifier between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant at the Wankhede

Steven Smith's decision to cover for Ben Stokes' bowling worked out perfectly © BCCI

Rising Pune's selection dilemma
Losing Ben Stokes is akin to losing two players, because he had been bowling four overs - in the Powerplay and the 19th - and also scoring crucial runs. Rising Pune could have replaced him with either a batsman - Usman Khawaja - to make up the runs, or a bowler - Lockie Ferguson - to provide bowling cover. Because they had a settled top order, Rising Pune picked the New Zealand fast bowler Ferguson to strengthen the attack. He returned figures of 3-0-21-1.

A deft juggle of bowlers
Mumbai Indians opened the attack with Mitchell McClenaghan, who aimed almost every ball at the stumps. He had third man in the circle and both fine leg and square leg back for Rahul Tripathi and bowled the Pune opener with another full delivery. Lasith Malinga bowled the second over and removed Steven Smith. McClenaghan bowled the third over, Jasprit Bumrah the fourth, Karn Sharma the fifth, and Malinga again for the sixth over. Lots of teams use four bowlers in the Powerplay but the way Rohit Sharma did it today was better than most.

New role for Malinga
Throughout the IPL, Malinga has been a little off colour and though Mumbai opted to play him in the big playoff game, they used him differently. He bowled the second, sixth and 11th overs. In the past, it was blasphemous to even entertain the thought of not having two or more Malinga overs available in the slog. These days, Mumbai don't leave more than one Malinga over for the final five. The rise of Bumrah as an effective slog-over bowler has allowed Mumbai to use Malinga differently.

Today, Bumrah bowled only one over in the first 13. Also, Bumrah bowling the 14th over strengthened another T20 theory - rarely does a bowler bowl three overs on the trot. Rohit gave Bumrah the 14th over to make sure he could bowl the 18th and 20th. In the end, Malinga didn't even finish his quota.

Lasith Malinga dismissed Steven Smith in his first over © BCCI

Dhoni's finishing
It's evident that nowadays Dhoni needs a little time to get going, and that aspect was on display against Mumbai. For the first 15 balls, his strike rate was well under 100 despite a six. From there, he went on to hit four more sixes and ended with the acceptable strike rate of 154. While his dot ball percentage (46%) was higher than usual, he made up for it with some classic Dhoni-style hitting. Every time the bowlers bowled a length ball, he deposited them into the stands. Only the yorkers went unscathed.

Umpiring errors
In the Rising Pune innings, there was a leg-side wide that wasn't called. In Mumbai's chase, Rohit was done in by umpiring error - there was an edge before the ball hit his pads but the umpire gave it out. Just like the wide, this umpiring error was evident before Rohit had left the field.

While I'm not advocating for DRS in T20 and the IPL, is it not possible to rectify the blatant errors when there's no apparent wastage of time? Why can't the third umpire step in? There have been too many umpiring errors this IPL that might have changed the course of games.

A batting meltdown
There was a common theme to the recent collapses of Gujarat Lions, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Mumbai tonight. A decent start, a quick wicket or two, and not even a single batsman thinking about steadying the innings. In every team meeting before a T20 game, there's a mention of how 120 balls is a lot of time and therefore, it's imperative to read the situation properly and react appropriately. The message is getting lost of late.

Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kemukundarajanmukundarajan on May 17, 2017, 11:48 GMT

    Rohit needs to practice hard in the nets as to how to play without being hit on the pads!!!!

  • sridharCricketAnalyst on May 17, 2017, 11:45 GMT

    I am disappointed with the quality of our Indian Umpires compared to those in other countries. They lack basic judgement and they are not confident while umpiring. BCCI may say they need experience. Experience is different. If an umpire lacks concentration and the judgement, how can he be successful and accurate. They even missed giving wides. The delivery that was bowled by McClaghan should have been a wide while Manoj Tiwari was facing. Very pathetic indian umpires.

  • guppys_classmate on May 17, 2017, 7:13 GMT

    Strike Rate of 150 is just acceptable? His was the highest strike rate from either teams. This article simply seems to be a melange of ifs and buts from a MI perspective, rather than how RPS used their limited resources smartly.

  • fancyag on May 17, 2017, 6:42 GMT

    I fully agree with you that umpiring in this IPL season has been far from satisfactory. You are right in suggesting Why can't the third umpire step in? There have been too many umpiring errors this IPL that might have changed the course of games.

  • debajit72 on May 17, 2017, 5:57 GMT

    We have seen a trend between the umpires. Every time (100 out of 100 times) there is a close decision like whether a catch is carried, whether the fielder touched the rope before clearing the ball, etc. we see both the umpires chat for 10-15 seconds and then refers it to the third umpire with a soft signal. It seems wise, but in reality waste of time. Why do not they refer to the third umpire immediately? Instead, they can utilize that time to discuss decisions like the Rohit LBW.

  • US_Indian on May 17, 2017, 4:27 GMT

    How they filled the big hole created by Stokes and that too when both Tripathy and smith failed who were the regular contributors- 1- Both Rahane and Dhoni contributed. 2-RPS fielding was better. 3-Young Washington Sunder's performance- I believe at 17 years of age he is much more calmer and strong than other young teammates from the U19 side. I haven't seen his batting performance if i am wright he is an allrounder. Maybe his batting exploits are round the corner. He reminds me of Bhuvi with his demaneur and calmness. I wish the other U19 guys like Jaffer, Khaleel and others were picked or if picked given more opportunities as they say this IPL thing is for showcasing and promoting Indian talent. apart from 3 guys pant, kishan and sundar not many got opportunities. Avesh got an opportunity a little too late and just one only but what a performance he had given, now i think Kohli must be rueing over the missed opportunity of not utilising this young guys bowling talent which RCB lacked

  • misterkool on May 17, 2017, 1:26 GMT

    Everything reads fine, except your terming MSD's strike rate of 150+ as only "Acceptable". You need to take the match situation in consideration when rating his strike rate. All of the other batsmen, more technically efficient and explosive than MS, on either side scored in the 130 strike rate bracket only. Got to give credit where it is due Aakash.

  • Comment123 on May 17, 2017, 0:26 GMT

    Something interesting about this IPL.

    More than 10 simple catches were dropped. More than 10 most difficult catches were taken More than 10 wrong umpiring decisions

    One of them is MI against KKR when Grandhornne's thick edge was given not out. No more you will see batsmen walking when they are out. Umpires could not hear at times these thick edges but the batsmen knows that but they still as if nothing happened!!!

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