ROAD TO THE FINAL

Defending champions Mumbai Indians – who seems to have cracked the T20 code – lived up to their reputation as they made it to another IPL final and is now on the cusp of a record-extending fifth title. The Rohit Sharma-led MI will take on Delhi Capitals in the summit clash – a side that will be playing their maiden final. While that is one factor that makes MI the overwhelming favourites to win the tournament, that is one stat will also put pressure on them.

Mumbai had a consistent season that saw them win nine games in the group stage out of 14 matches as they finished top of the table with 18 points. Here is a look at MI’s journey into the final.

The Start: The defending champions did not get off to the ideal start as they lost to Chennai in the tournament opener by five wickets, but the MI bounced back soon winning the next fixture against Kolkata. The MI team beat KKR by 49 runs and that seemed to have got their season started but they lost the very next game to Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in a Super Over thriller.

The defending champions showed spine to get back to winning ways in their next match against Kings XI Punjab. MI thrashed KXIP by 48 runs. That win seems to have got their campaign up and running as they won four after that. They defeated teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals.

At that point in time, the opening pair was in top form and the bowlers were rising to the task and MI was looking good to make the Playoffs after eight games in which they had won six.

Mid-Phase: In their next game against Punjab in the reverse fixture, MI lost in a Super Over thriller and it seemed they down be low-on-confidence, but that was not the case as the champions side bounced back with a comprehensive 10-wicket win over Chennai. But just when one felt MI were almost through, there was a hiccup. They were stunned by the Royals in their next match by eight wickets. That was it, Mumbai won the next two against RCB and DC they sealed their Playoff spot. In their last group stage game, which was a must-win for Hyderabad, Mumbai – who had rested Bumrah, Boult and Hardik – did not play top cricket and were outplayed by SRH.

Playoffs: As MI finished top of the points table, they secured themselves two shots at making the finals – but that was not needed – as they thrashed the Capitals by 58 runs in the first Qualifier. In that game, Bumrah – coming off a well-deserved rest – picked four wickets to power MI into another final. Young Ishan Kishan also reassured his class and potential with the bat as he hit a brilliant 55* off 30 balls.

Special Mentions

One batsman who has impressed once again is Suryakumar Yadav, he has a pivotal role for MI’s road to the finals. He has notched up the scores of 40, 0, 10, 53, 79, 27, 10, 0, 47 in the lucrative tournament this year. Despite not getting a maiden national call, Surya seems to be answering his critics with the bat.

Another player who deserves a special mention is Kieron Pollard for having led the side well in Rohit Sharma’s absence. It was Pollard who inspired with the bat and helped MI get the finishing touches in a number of games.