IPL 2018: Mumbai Indians find blueprint for middle overs in Mayank Markande and Krunal Pandya

Mumbai have found a blueprint in the middle overs and Rohit Sharma now has to ensure that they follow it in the rest of the season.

Devdutt Kshirsagar, Apr 18, 2018 16:20:41 IST

There was a school of thought which believed that the reason behind Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB) meek surrender in the 214-run chase was Virat Kohli.

Mumbai Indians' Krunal Pandya celebrates a wicket against Royal Challengers Bangalore. AFP

Mumbai Indians' Krunal Pandya celebrates a wicket against Royal Challengers Bangalore. AFP

It may sound preposterous to some as Kohli top scored for Bangalore and ended unbeaten on 92 off 62 balls. His strike rate was 148.39 which didn't make it seem like he was the culprit. But the argument was that he slowed down in the middle overs, thereby putting the batsmen at the other end under pressure. The shots that Mandeep Singh, Corey Anderson and Sarfaraz Khan played to get out attested to that theory. Mindless slog was the term that came to the mind after watching the trio's dismissals. In hindsight, the theory makes sense but it doesn't take into consideration some of the factors which led to a change in Kohli's approach.

Rohit Sharma, who walked out to the centre with Mumbai Indians struggling on 0/2 and successfully averted the hat-trick, starred for the hosts slamming 94 off 52. Mumbai eventually scored 213 which meant the rest of the batsmen scored 119 off 68 balls. In Kohli's case, the equation of the rest of the team was 75 off 58 balls. The difference between both the teams was how their bowlers operated in the middle overs.

Mumbai were 60/2 at the sixth over mark, while Bangalore were 55/2. There was very little to separate the two teams. Like Mumbai, even Bangalore had lost two wickets in an over. If pushed, the only difference was RCB had lost two of their best batsmen in Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers, but that didn't matter much as Kohli was still at the crease. However, the introduction of the spin duo of Krunal Pandya and Mayank Markande changed things drastically.

Before this match, Krunal was underbowled. He was touted as the lone hope for their spin department after the auction. Of course Markande's impressive start had somewhat eclipsed that issue but still, Mumbai's strategy to not use the left-arm spinner enough was becoming inexplicable.  He might not be a wicket-taker like Markande but Krunal's overs are mostly frugal. But Rohit had changed his mind on Tuesday and allowed Krunal to bowl his full quota for the first time in this season.

The results were evident. Not only did Krunal complemented Markande, he also picked three crucial wickets. His eventual figures were 4-0-28-3, which are exceptional as it is when the opposition are chasing 214. But they seem more valuable if one doesn't forget that his first over went for 13 runs.

What Krunal's three overs did was it allowed Markande to bowl freely. His biggest contribution of the match was keeping Kohli quiet in the middle overs. The leg-spinner conceded only 15 runs off the 14 balls he bowled to Kohli. It wasn't as if Kohli wasn't taking risks against Markande. He also hit a six against the 20-year old, but in general, Markande's plan to bowl according to the field paid rich dividends. Kohli simply couldn't set the ball rolling.

In contrast to Krunal and Markande, who conceded 53 in their eight overs and bagged four wickets, the opposition spinners Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal leaked 64 off their five overs. There were a lot of other factors which led to Mumbai ending their losing streak but the duo's performance, on a track that didn't offer much help for the spinners and on an outfield where dew was playing a huge factor, stood out.

This was one of the major reason why Kohli approached the innings the way he did. He admitted that he had given up on the chase halfway into the chase and was concentrating on minimising the margin of the defeat so that the net run rate doesn't take too bad a hit. If Markande and Krunal can force a batsman like Kohli, who has taken his team over the line in the stiffest of chases, to give up, surely they can do so against the other teams too. Mumbai have found a blueprint in the middle overs and Rohit now has to ensure that they follow it in the rest of the season.

Updated Date: Apr 18, 2018 16:20:41 IST

World Cup 2019 Points Table

Team p w l nr pts
Australia 5 4 1 0 8
New Zealand 4 3 0 1 7
India 4 3 0 1 7
England 4 3 1 0 6
Bangladesh 5 2 2 1 5
Sri Lanka 5 1 2 2 4
West Indies 5 1 3 1 3
South Africa 5 1 3 1 3
Pakistan 5 1 3 1 3
Afghanistan 4 0 4 0 0

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
6 Sri Lanka 3462 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5720 124
2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4647 111
5 Australia 4805 109
6 Pakistan 4107 93
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
6 New Zealand 4056 254