Mumbai Indians underscored the gap between them and the other seven teams with a comprehensive win in the final against Delhi Capitals.
The Rohit Sharma-led outfit was the most consistent of the tournament. The most significant feature of the champions’ performance was the way they responded to crises.
Take Qualifier One for instance. The Delhi Capitals bowlers had done a fine containing job till the 15th over of the Mumbai Indians innings. Kieron Pollard had fallen for a duck. However, in came Hardik Pandya, who turned the situation and match on its head. This was a recurring feature in the competition.
Mumbai Indians invariably found someone who raised his hand when the team was under pressure.
It is rare for a batsman of Rohit Sharma’s caliber to be overshadowed, but that is precisely what happened in IPL 2020.
Ishan Kishen and Suryakumar Yadav were outstanding, as was Quinton de Kock at the top of the order. While Delhi Capitals did well to make the final with some smart moves, like promoting Marcus Stoinis to open the batting against Sun Risers Hyderabad, it was always going to be an uphill battle for them, once they were reduced to 22-3, with both Stoinis and Shikhar Dhawan back in the pavilion. Delhi Capitals would have fancied their chances after winning the toss and electing to bat.
‘Scoreboard pressure’ in a final can never be ruled out, and had they got off to a good start, they could have notched up a big score, but the Mumbai Indians bowlers, led by Trent Boult, had the final say.
Rishabh Pant and skipper Shreyas Iyer fought back for the north Indian franchise, but the wicketkeeper-batsman fell at the wrong time. His dismissal enabled Mumbai Indians to regain the momentum and they retained it till the end of the game, this time around.
It was appropriate that their captain essayed a gem of an innings in the summit clash. Rohit Sharma is now a five-time winner of the title as a captain and a six-time one as a player. It is a record that will not be broken anytime soon.
What can the other sides learn from the five-time champions? For starters, retaining the core of the side and instilling self-belief in the players. The senior members of the team and support staff have done a fine job of hand-holding the juniors and facilitating their evolution as cricketers.
Jasprit Bumrah, for instance, has practically grown up in the Mumbai Indians fold. He started as an understudy of sorts to Lasith Malinga and is today one of the most respected new-ball bowlers in the world. He will look to carry his form on the tour of Australia, which will begin shortly.
Several individuals, from fans to members of the participating sides, were skeptical of whether the tournament would run its course, considering the dreadful times we are presently living in. However, their apprehensions were unfounded. IPL 2020 has been a huge success in every sense. The commercial gains apart, it put smiles on the faces of millions and that is probably its greatest achievement. Cricket fans cannot wait for the next season.
The writer is a former Indian cricketer, and the founder director of International Institute of Sports Management