Mumbai Indians’ pacers Jasprit Bumrah (12 wkts) and Mitchell McClanaghan (15 wkts) have played a defining role in the former champions’ steep climb in IPL 2017. They have hunted in a pair, and brilliantly shouldered the responsibility at the death.
Yorker specialist Bumrah and an accurate McClenaghan have had a fire and ice effect, which has even put Lasith Malinga to shade. Still, the hard work done by Krunal Pandya in the middle overs has stood out.
The Baroda left-arm spinner and batsman has been the lynchpin in the Mumbai Indians’ bowling attack. His ten wickets at an economy rate of less than seven reveals how he has set a platform for Bumrah and Co to operate without pressure.
In an IPL season where wrist spinners have been the flavour, Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma has opted for Krunal for his ability to vary his pace and accuracy. Bumrah and McClenaghan start the proceedings but Mumbai, on an average, have gone for over 9 with the new ball. It is then that Rohit throws the ball to Krunal.
Krunal’s perfect role
Krunal’s ability to break in momentum of the opposition has helped Mumbai to claw back. Out of Krunal’s nine games, his four-over spells in six brought the run-rate down from over 8 to under 6.50. In those six matches, he has finished his spell by the 13th over. Against KKR, Krunal put the brakes on their scoring and took three for 24. After the power-play phase, KKR were motoring at 11 an over, but after 14 overs, they could only add 48 at 6 an over.
Against RCB, his four overs yielded 21 and he also took the prized wicket of AB de Villiers. The run-rate fell from 7 to 5.2. Though, Krunal’s best came against Gujarat Lions. He bowled two overs after the powerplay and the next two during the end of the middle overs. Rohit made sure Krunal bowled against the left-handers Ravindra Jadeja and James Faulkner. In both the spells he dented their reputation with three wickets. He conceded just 14 runs and Lions could muster only 54 runs in 10 overs.
How Bhajji benefits
With Krunal on top, Harbhajan Singh is bowling his heart out. Last year, Harbhajan got just eight wickets and conceded 8 runs an over, when Krunal was new to IPL. But this year, with Krunal playing the lead role, Harbhajan is at his economical best and picking wickets. In 2013 and 2015, Harbhajan had Pragyan Ojha as his partner and the off-spinner wreacked havoc among the opposition.
Krunal’s bowling has had a cause-and-effect relationship on the Mumbai bowlers. Against Rising Pune Supergiant, he went for 21 in two overs and Bumrah and McClenghan too conceded 9 an over. Mumbai lost by seven wickets.
Daredevils’ unsound ploy
Delhi Daredevils have missed the trick. While they have emphasised on pacers, they have not used Shahbaz Nadeem properly. This year, he has played five games, bowling well in three. He bowled with the new ball and took two wickets against KXIP in two overs and wasn’t bowled again. Amit Mishra has suffered majorly in his absence. Chief mentor Rahul Dravid believes in ringing in constant changes but that hasn’t paid the dividends this season.
With the Mumbai batting clicking, it will be important for Delhi to bowl eight overs of Nadeem and Mishra. If the middle overs are cashed, Delhi might have to chase a huge target again. And it will be a little too much to expect young Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant to perform their magic again.