The bowlers reduced KKR to 61/5 in the early going and from that point on, Eoin Morgan’s team was fighting just to stay in the game. Early wickets might have given KKR a way back into the game but Quinton de Kock’s 44-ball 78 smashed whatever thoughts of a comeback they might have harboured in quick time.
KKR’s challenge never took off as MI established themselves as the side to beat in IPL 2020. Here are three things were learnt from the game:
There are times when Quinton De Kock looks a little lost. His batting against spin is a clear and obvious weakness. But then again, there are times when he looks like a batsman who can dominate world cricket. And unfortunately for Kolkata Knight Riders, they ran into the latter version.
At his best, QdK’s batting showcases his uncluttered mindset. He goes for his shots without really worrying about getting out. He can drive the ball well and the pull shots are a joy to behold. If KKR wanted to have a chance against MI on Friday, they needed wickets but the MI openers put on 94 runs to virtually finish the chase off. From that point, it was just about doing the basics right.
“Those leg-side shots are just one of the shots I have in my armoury,” said De Kock after the game. “I don’t plan to do that, it is just natural. It is just about keeping my balance and playing them as I see them. Last game I was disappointed, I didn’t finish the game. Mahela had a couple of words with us. So I had to rectify that. Mahela can come hard at you if you do something ordinary.”
In 2019, QdK scored 529 runs for MI at a SR of 132.91 and he seems to be primed to do even better this year. In 8 matches, the left-hander has already scored 269 runs at a SR of 151.97. Teams didn’t quite know how to use him but MI have got it exactly right.
But perhaps the best part for MI is how comfortable, QdK and Rohit are at the top of the order. They have their roles well defined and are a natural fit.
“I enjoy batting with Quinton,” said Rohit after the match. “He is straightforward. Most of the times I take the back seat. I have a role to play in the squad. I need to let Quinny bat free and not worry about what the team needs from him.”
Coming into the game, there were just two points separating KKR and MI on the points table. But, on the field, the gap was clearly much more. While MI have every part of their game covered, KKR seem to be falling apart.
Dinesh Karthik decided to step down from captaincy just before the game, Shubman Gill isn’t being aggressive enough at the top, their opening pair keeps changing, Narine’s bowling ban has thrown a spanner in the works and Russell’s poor batting form means they are missing a finisher. This is a team that is lacking consistency at every level.
Of course, it isn’t all bad news. Morgan, who has taken over as skipper, is an experienced pro and he should be able to change things around a bit. But will he have enough time to stamp his authority on the team?
Taking over in the middle of the season is never easy but KKR’s first goal will be getting to the playoffs. They already have 8 points, so another three wins could get them there.
The month of October has been a good one for the Mumbai Indians. After losing the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Super Over on September 28, Rohit Sharma’s team has gone on a five-match winning streak.
The winning margins have a story of their own to tell – KXIP (48 runs), SRH (34 runs), RR (57 runs), DC (5 wickets), KKR (8 wickets). They have all been comprehensive wins that show how MI have found the most elusive trait of T20 cricket – consistency.
Right now, they are a team that can do no wrong. They have batsmen in good form, bowlers that are doing the same. They are good in the field too. And unlike CSK, they have a good blend of youth and experience. If anything, the fear will be that they are perhaps peaking too soon.
“It is important for us to make sure we stay on the money. It is important to not be complacent. This tournament is very funny, can’t take the foot off the pedal at any time, we have seen how teams lose at times,” said Rohit Sharma during the post-match presentation.
He added: “The guys are very hungry, they haven’t played cricket for six months and they want to come out here and express themselves. Guys like Krunal (Pandya) or Ishan (Kishan) have not gotten many chances and these guys are very hungry and they want to prove a point.”