IPL 2017: MI book playoffs berth with IPL’s biggest win

Mumbai Indians became the first team in the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League to secure a spot in the playoffs while Delhi Daredevils succumbed to the largest defeat in terms of runs in the history of the tournament. After electing to bowl, Zaheer Khan’s side fell prey to the West Indian power-hitting duo of Lendl Simmons and Kieron Pollard as MI posted a massive 212 on the board. Chasing 213 to win, DD were dented early by the MI pacers and even before they could fathom the loss, Harbhajan Singh and Karn Sharma accounted for six wickets between them to skittle them out for 66 – the second lowest total of the season.

When the twin Caribbean moves prove doubly impactful

Simmons was awarded his first game of the season and it was only obvious that he needed that extra time to get his timing right. And when he did, he hit two sixes and a four in the space of seven deliveries to get himself up and running. Although Parthiv Patel could not make much of a difference with his scoring rate, the partnership as a whole clicked as MI put on 79 runs for the opening wicket.

In came the second strong move of the evening as Pollard was promoted to No. 3. While Simmons raised his fifty off just 37 balls, Pollard got going right from the word go – striking two sixes off Amit Mishra in the 11th over. Simmons could only hit two more sixes from there on, before falling for a 43-ball 66, but Pollard took his liking to Mishra to another level, hitting him for two sixes in an over again. The big man from the West Indies raced to his fifty off just 29 balls and with Hardik Pandya too milking the DD bowling, MI coasted away to a daunting total of 212 runs. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the move to bring in the men from the Caribbean at the positions they did, did all the damage.

Where an already exasperated Delhi lost all its hopes

Delhi would have trusted their daredevilry this time around as well, especially after their emphatic chasing against Gujarat Lions the other evening. But all spiralled downhill when Sanju Samson – one of the heroes of the previous run-chase – fell off the very first ball to the bowling of Mitchell McClenaghan. While MI got their promotions perfectly right, Rishabh Pant was not sent in at No. 3 for strange reasons. Shreyas Iyer, walking in at one-down didn’t work. Neither the demotion of Pant could bring any laurels. In the end, the three frontline pacers – McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah, removed the top-three to ensure that DD’s chase could never take flight.

How the spinners relived the old Kotla days

Once McClenaghan, Malinga and Bumrah were done with their share of damage, Harbhajan Singh, who was brought in at the cost of Krunal Pandya for this game, combined with fellow legspinner Karn Sharma to flatten Delhi completely. While Delhi’s matchwinners-in-chief fell prey to pace, Harbhajan and Karn didn’t allow even a wee bit of respite to the remaining batting lineup. Delhi had Corey Anderson and Pat Cummins in the lineup too and even Kagiso Rabada had almost won them a game with the bat in this season. But the spin duo shared six wickets between them to bowl DD out for a meagre 66, helping MI record the largest victory in the history of the IPL.

Where do the teams go from here?

Mumbai Indians become the first team to go into the playoffs, securing 18 points, and staying clear of their next competition (Rising Pune Supergiant) by two points and a game lesser. Mumbai play Sunrisers Hyderabad next in their opponents’ den and they would look to build on their top spot as much as they can, to earn the priviledge of that extra shot at a place in the final.

Delhi’s chances of qualifying for the knock-outs received a major dent but mathematically, they still stand a chance. With two of their remaining three contests to be played at home, they would back themselves to do better than what they did on Saturday. Their next game, which is an away fixture, is against an already-knocked out Gujarat Lions and they would want to put their best foot forward, starting there.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 212/3 in 20 overs (Lendl Simmons 66, Kieron Pollard 63*; Kagiso Rabada 1-33) beat Delhi Daredevils 66 in 13.4 overs (Karun Nair 21; Karn Sharma 3-11, Harbhajan Singh 3-22) by 146 runs.

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