Mumbai Indians 200 for 5 (Kishan 55*, Suryakumar 51, de Kock 40, Ashwin 3-29) beat Delhi Capitals 143 for 8 (Stoinis 65, Axar 42, Bumrah 4-14, Bout 2-9) by 57 runs
After becoming the first side to qualify for the playoffs, the Mumbai Indians swatted aside the Delhi Capitals in the first Qualifier, giving themselves a shot at a fifth IPL title. They were asked to bat first, meaning their bowlers had to deal with the dew in the second half, but their batsmen offset that disadvantage by muscling them to an above-par 200 for 5.
During a sideline interview, their coach Mahela Jayawardene said that they were eyeing 170; they got 30 more. Quinton de Kock provided the early thrust at the top, along with Suryakumar Yadav, before R Ashwin's vintage spell of 4-0-29-3 briefly pulled them back. Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya, though, provided a blockbuster finish by taking 60 together off a mere 23 balls. Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah then made Mumbai's already tall total of 200 like the Burj Khalifa by leaving them 0 for 3.
Boult had Prithvi Shaw edging behind and Ajinkya Rahane trapped in front in a stellar double-wicket maiden. Rohit Sharma let Bumrah loose with the new ball at the other end and he responded by yorking Shikhar Dhawan for a duck as well. Just like that the challenges of bowling second became a non-factor, and when Rishabh Pant holed out, the Capitals were 41 for 5 in the eighth over, their chase all but over.
While Mumbai will now rest for three days, the Capitals will move to Abu Dhabi to face the winner of the Eliminator between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad for another crack at the final.
de Kock, Suryakumar set the pace
Mumbai suffered an early jolt when Ashwin found turn with the new ball and pinned Sharma in front of his stumps for a golden duck. de Kock and Yadav, however, kept going after the bowlers in the powerplay. de Kock drove left-arm seamer Daniel Sams through mid-on for a brace of fours and even drilled Ashwin through the covers.
The Capitals had picked Sams over Shimron Hetmyer in the XI seemingly so that they could hold back Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje for the slog overs against Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers. But since Sams conceded 15 runs in his first over, the Capitals had to bring on both Rabada and Nortje slightly earlier. Yadav got into his groove with a dismissive short-arm pulled four of Nortje and then launched a paused-and-delivered offbreak from Ashwin for six over mid-off. Yadav and de Kock kept picking their spots, pushing Mumbai to 63 for 1 in the powerplay.
Hello, again, Ashwin
Ashwin was carrying a hamstring injury into the Capitals' last league fixture against the Royal Challengers, and had to clear a fitness test to take part in the first Qualifier. Despite the injury concerns, he bowled with great rhythm, getting the ball to dip, drift and turn. In the eighth over, de Kock charged at him, but Ashwin found sharp dip, coaxing a toe-ended catch to long-off.
In his next over, the 13th of the innings, he was up against the promoted Kieron Pollard. Ashwin's first ball to him was a carrom ball, which Pollard dragged to long-on for a duck. In a game where all the other Capitals frontline bowlers went for at least nine an over, Ashwin had an economy rate of 7.25 while picking up the big wickets of Sharma, de Kock, and Pollard.
The Kishan-Hardik bash
Kishan was on 10 off 13 balls at one point. The Capitals didn't want to expose the left-arm spin of Axar Patel to the two left-hand batsmen, Kishan and Krunal Pandya, so they gave Marcus Stoinis a go. The Australia allrounder stepped up with a five-run over that also included the wicket of Krunal. Kishan and Hardik, however, revved up to top gear, using the extra pace of Rabada and Nortje to their advantage. Kishan rode the bounce of a chest-high delivery from Rabada and pulled it for six before dinking a 150kph delivery from Nortje to the third-man boundary.
As for Hardik, he walloped five sixes in 14 balls, finishing with an unbeaten 37 at a strike rate of nearly 265.
The chase that wasn't
Boult could bowl just two overs before leaving the field because of a groin complaint, but he still had enough time to grab two wickets. Bumrah, meanwhile, took out the other three in the Capitals' top five. After Krunal got rid of Pant, the Capitals were in danger of being skittled for a sub-100 score, but Stoinis and Patel helped them avoid the ignominy by putting on 71 off 44 balls for the sixth wicket. It was Bumrah who snapped that stand when he bowled Stoinis for 65 in the 16th over. Bumrah ended with 4 for 14, the Capitals with 143 for 8.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo