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Match Analysis

All-round Krunal Pandya brings anarchy to the IPL

He's happy being a spinner who doesn't spin the ball and he's ferocious when he gets a chance to bat

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
David Warner is set. It has taken him a while to get here. But finally, he is hitting a cricket ball so hard you wince watching it all happen.
Imagine what it would take to beat him. To confound him to such an extent that he is bent over at the crease, held up by his bat, all of his power made totally redundant.
This was a wide yorker of the finest quality. It had pace. It was accurate. And, best of all, it was the last thing the batsman expected… because it was bowled by a spinner.
Krunal Pandya punched the air with a real sense of purpose. He had given away only nine runs in the over, the 15th of the innings, and he had taken a wicket, leaving the Sunrisers with an improbable task: 70 to win off only 30 balls - 12 of which would be shot out of the cannon that Jasprit Bumrah calls a right hand.
Mumbai owed a lot of their victory on Sunday to Krunal. In fact, according to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, he had the greatest influence on the outcome of the match among his team-mates. In simple terms, his efforts mattered more than any other Mumbai player's, and remember this iis a line-up that features T20 royalty.
Krunal began his spell in the powerplay, where only two fielders are allowed on the boundary, which in Sharjah is barely 70m. He also had to deal with bowling into the hitting arc of the left-handed Warner. All of this points to a high degree of difficulty that the bowler has to negotiate and Krunal did beautifully. Dude hit four boundaries off four balls, but gave away only three in 24.
And he'll have to finish his full quota more often than not because there is no other option. Mumbai - or even India for that matter - can't afford to rush Hardik Pandya into bowling after his back injury. The international players will be off on their tour of Australia immediately after the IPL. They can't afford to go without their premier allrounder again.
So Krunal is adapting to his new role. He only wobbles the ball now because he knows his pace (often exceeding 100kph) and his accuracy are his best bets to making a batsman hit where he wants. Krunal is so invested in this that he even experimented with a round-arm action to mess with Warner's bat-swing. Anything to gain an edge.
Krunal's bowling showcased intelligence and clarity of thought. But there is a bit of anarchy in it as well. He's happy being a spinner who doesn't actually spin the ball. There was anarchy in his batting as well. Pure, pulse-pounding anarchy.
In most of Mumbai's matches, shots of their dugout late in the innings would reveal him in full gear and with a fearsome expression. He wanted in. He was ready to take on the world's best death bowlers and put them into the stands. He had extra incentive to do that in Sharjah.
Siddharth Kaul had just mercilessly yorked his little brother Hardik. You don't mess with family like that. And so, big brother took strike, deep in his crease, his knees bent, his body in a crouch and set to spring on anything loose. Like a length ball. Krunal made it disappear over long-on. The strike was so pure that even cameraman lost track of the ball. This routine continued as Mumbai shot from 187 to 208 in the space of four balls - 6, 4, 4, 6.
No batsman who has got to face at least two balls after having walked into bat in the 20th over in the IPL, has struck at a higher rate than Krunal's 500 (FIVE HUNDRED!). Suddenly it wasn't so clear which of the Mumbai siblings was the biggest six hitter. The question had to be put to Krunal at the press conference and, with a giant smile on his face, which then turned to out and out laughter, he simply said. "I'll say [both] Pandyas are the biggest six-hitters."
IPL, you've been warned.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo