Krunal Pandya spent much of the past six months watching his brother Hardik take centrestage donning the national colours. On Sunday, he seized the spotlight, scoring a blistering 37-ball 86 to guide Mumbai Indians to an easy victory over Delhi Daredevils and keep the defending champions’ playoff hopes alive.
The knock that included six sixes and seven fours helped Mumbai post a total of 206 for four at the ACA-VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam. In reply, Delhi Daredevils folded for 126 to hand Mumbai an 80-run victory in their must-win clash.
Pandya’s 98-run partnership with Martin Guptill (48) set the base for Mumbai. Pandya took on the role of aggressor, and went after the Delhi spinners, who have enjoyed a fair bit of success in the league so far.
Delhi pacers, skipper Zaheer Khan and Chris Morris bowled well but the spinners came in for heavy punishment. The 12 overs bowled by tweakers Imran Tahir, Amit Mishra and Shahbaz Nadeem saw as many as 143 runs being leaked. Tahir alone was smashed for 59 runs in his four overs, the most conceded by a bowler this season and the most by a spinner in the entire IPL.
Defending a huge total, Mumbai’s bowlers faced little resistance from the Delhi batsmen, who folded quickly. Jasprit Bumrah was the pick of the MI bowlers, returning figures of three for 13.
The win takes Mumbai into fourth place in the standings with 14 points. Delhi, who they replaced, are still in the hunt with 12 points, having played two games less than Mumbai.
Since moving their home base to Visakhapatnam, Mumbai had been struggling to adapt to the conditions. The slow wicket with turn had left the big-hitting batsmen struggling for form. Mumbai had lost the previous two games played here with feeble batting being their primary cause for defeat.
Their batsmen, however, deserved credit for the way they played on Sunday. Pandya, who usually bats at No 4, was promoted a spot. In his previous knocks, he had hardly lived up to the responsibility handed to him. However, the change in batting order seemed to have done the trick.
His success once again highlights the flexibility of the Mumbai side. The wicket behaved the same way as it had in the previous two matches played here. But Mumbai adapted well and performed at crucial junctures.