Ahead of the IPL final between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, here are five player battles that could determine this season's champions.
On Tuesday, Delhi Capitals will set their sights on a dream that has been eluding them for the last 12 years — an IPL trophy. Shreyas Iyer-led DC face Rohit Sharma’s mighty Mumbai Indians in the final of IPL 2020 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium as one of the most competitive and exhilarating seasons of the T20 league comes to a close.
MI have largely dominated the tournaments with a few blips here and there. While the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have impressed in the batting department, Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult have led the bowling attack, with Rahul Chahar also being a revelation.
DC started the tournament strongly, with five wins out of the first seven games, but struggled in the second half, with four consecutive losses. They left it late, until their final league match against RCB, to book a berth in the playoffs, securing second place.
Apart from Shikhar Dhawan, their top-order has been relatively weak, and that remains a concern ahead of the final.
However, it was in their Qualifier 2 against SRH that Marcus Stoinis opened the batting, and set things right with Shikhar Dhawan to see off the 2016 champions.
Here, we take a look at some key player battles that could determine the final:
Jasprit Bumrah vs Marcus Stoinis
It is safe to say that Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis has lived up to the expectations at Delhi Capitals. He has done almost everything for his team. Not only has he won matches with both the bat and ball in pressure situations, he has also been one of the bankable and consistent performers for his team.
DC’s top-order had been struggling with Prithvi Shaw losing his form. They tried Ajinkya Rahane at the top too before promoting Stoinis to open the batting with Shikhar Dhawan against SRH on Sunday, and it worked wonders.
The duo built an 86-run opening stand which eventually laid the platform for a big total, with Stoinis playing his part in his 27-ball innings of 38. He returned brilliantly with the ball, with figures of 3-26 from four overs.
Stoinis could open the batting once again, and he will be up against Jasprit Bumrah, who dismissed him with a peach of a delivery the last time the two teams faced in Qualifier 1.
The duo of Bumrah-Trent Boult has arguably been the best new-ball partners in this IPL, and will be an opportunity to see off Stoinis if he comes to bat early on, but must be wary of the Australian’s form and his aggressive batting technique, as he can unleash shots all around the park.
Trent Boult vs Shikhar Dhawan
MI’s Trent Boult has almost been impeccable in the powerplay overs, and he will face a tougher challenge in the form of Shikhar Dhawan, who enters the final on the back of an energising knock of 78 against SRH.
Dhawan has been the most consistent batsman for DC, with four fifties to his name, and also leads his team’s run-scoring charts with 603 runs. This was the first time ever in his IPL career that he has gone past 600 runs in a single season, and he will pose a threat to the MI bowlers.
Boult, meanwhile, is third on the Purple Cap standings with 22 scalps, seven behind DC’s Kagiso Rabada who leads the charts. 14 of those wickets have come in the powerplay overs, and was at his menacing best in Qualifier 1 on 5 November, seeing off Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane for ducks in the very first over.
Hardik Pandya vs Ravichandran Ashwin
Hardik Pandya's 278 runs from 13 matches in IPL 2020 may not make for an exciting read, but there's more to that than pure numbers. What makes him, and his runs, special is his finishing capabilities, and structuring match-winning stands. He has done that on quite a few occasions this season, providing heft to the MI middle order along with fellow all-rounders Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard.
With a strike rate of 182.89, Hardik and Pollard (strike rate of over 190) have often provided match-winning impetus to MI this IPL.
Hardik’s major competitor in the middle-overs will likely be Ravichandran Ashwin, who had a major impact in Qualifier 1 with figures of 3-29, despite DC going onto lose the game.
Despite an injury setback earlier in the tournament, Ashwin seems to have refound form, with 13 wickets from 14 matches at an economy rate of 7.72.
Suryakumar Yadav vs Kagiso Rabada
If there is someone who can single-handedly threaten DC, then it is none other than Suryakumar Yadav. Time and again, the 30-year-old has kept reminding the Indian selectors with his match-winning knocks this season. This was also the season where he has registered his best strike rate in a single edition-148.23, only behind Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya when it comes to MI batsmen.
He has scored four fifties this season, with two of those coming against Capitals. With 461 runs, he is an ever-reliable batsman at the top of the order, who plays a fearless, positive brand of cricket.
Speaking of fearless, he comes up against Kagiso Rabada, who got him out for 53 the first time the two teams met in the league stage this season.
Rabada's prowess is well-known, and getting Suryakumar will be top priority for the man with the Purple Cap (29 wickets).
With Rohit Sharma looking out of touch, it is crucial that Suryakumar tries to sustain and build momentum with the likes of Quinton de Kock early on in the innings, and try to avoid blips during the course of the innings.
Ishan Kishan vs DC
Much like his teammates Suryakumar Yadav and Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan has reveled this season, becoming MI’s joint-top scorer with 483 runs (the other being de Kock with the same number of runs)
More importantly, Kishan can be relied on to step up when needed, like he did with an unbeaten 72 against DC in the second leg of the league stage, at a time when Rohit Sharma was absent due to injury.
Overall, he has four half-centuries, with two of them coming against the Capitals.
Not to forget, Ishan Kishan just missed out on a century against RCB early in the season, being dismissed for 99 in a game that went down to the Super Over and which MI eventually lost.
The presence of Kishan also adds stability to the MI batting lineup, who have nothing much to worry about given the form of most of the top-order batsmen.
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