Lendl Simmons scored 66 off 43 balls (5x4, 4x6) as Mumbai Indians beat Delhi Daredevils by 146 runs to qualify for IPL 2017 playoffs . (Highlights)
Simmons, who replaced England’s Jos Buttler, looked threatening right from the word go. In process, he became the second fastest after Shaun Marsh to complete 1000 runs in IPL. (Scorecard)
While he had a forgettable T20 series against Pakistan cricket team last month, Simmons was a little jittery in the first few deliveries he faced at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday.
But like Simmons stayed in the crease, and, once he began to cover the line and got used to the pace of the Kotla wicket, he started playing his strokes, some improvised ones as well . His six off Kagiso Rabada was a classic example.
Simmons was quick to judge the length and slapped the rising delivery to the midwicket fence. With Rabada bowling with the fine-leg up and square-leg at the ropes, it was clear that the pacer wanted to hit the deck hard. Simmons realised the need to improvise and moved back in the crease and made room for himself before slashing at the ball.
He had struggled against Zaheer Khan at the start -- he had squared up once and had even edged an incoming delivery. It looked like Simmons will have problems but he recovered well and swiveled in the crease to guide Zaheer’s short-pitch ball over deep square-leg fence to collect his second six.
Simmons was able to get into the mind of the Delhi Daredevils bowlers as he kept dancing in the crease. Pat Cummins, too, found it difficult to bowl at him and was slashed over point. Later, Mohammed Shami was found wanting against Simmons as well, conceding a couple of boundaries against the West Indian.
Simmons innings was not just improvisation but an amalgamation of intelligence and smart batting. In the Cummins over during powerplay, he simply gave strike to Parthiv Patel, who struck another two boundaries to bring Mumbai Indians back into the game. At the end of six overs, Mumbai were 60/0 from 18/0 in three overs.
Against spinner Amit Mishra, Simmons knew he will have to drop the anchor. He did not try any rash shots but only nudged him for singles. The wicket turned from the first ball and Mishra bowled really slow.
Simmons needs pace to time his strokes. So he targeted Shami once again and placed him over cover. He completed his fifty with a single to long-off off Mishra and made sure Mumbai Indians were on course for a big score.