IPL 2023: Mumbai back in business as mid-table logjam deepens

Mumbai Indians beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 6 wickets at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday as Suryakumar Yadav shrugged off a slow start to the season with a 83 off 35 balls

Suryakumar Yadav celebrates after Mumbai Indians' win. (Photo: Instagram/@surya_14kumar)
Suryakumar Yadav celebrates after Mumbai Indians' win. (Photo: Instagram/@surya_14kumar)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

From lying in eighth position in the table not so long ago to third after their emphatic win on Tuesday, Mumbai Indians seemed to have regained their winning habit—throwing open the race for the play-offs like never before.

A successful chase of 200-run target in 16.3 overs have helped the run-rate of the five-time IPL champions to a great extent, while the Royal Challengers Bangalore have now slipped to seventh position in the table. The mid-table logjam, which has become more intense since the league became a 10-team affair from last year, means that there is everything to play for in the remaining 16 league games.

Can Rohit Sharma’s men now buck the trend of an unusually poor run over the last two seasons?  "It’s amazing to climb from eighth to third position in such a tight competition. Hopefully, we can maintain such a momentum in the last three games," remarked Jason Behrendorff, the tall Australian paceman who picked up the key wickets of Virat Kohli and a Glenn Maxwell on ramage at the Wankhede.

A look at the table reveals that only Gujarat Titans, who have reached the magic figure of 16 points from 11 matches, have ensured themselves of a position at top four – if not a top-two finish. Even second placed Chennai Super Kings, who are on 13 points from same number of games (six wins and one point from a washout game), need to win at least two out of their three remaining matches to confirm a play-off spot.

Meanwhile, what does the Mumbai paltan need to do to hang on among the top four? They need to win all of their remaining three matches and can then qualify with 18 from 14 matches. A 18-point mark will put them beyond the reach of Lucknow Super Giants (fourth with 11 from 11 games), Rajasthan Royals (fifth), Kolkata Knight Riders (sixth), Royal Challengers Bangalore (seventh) and Punjab Kings (eighth), all four on 10 points from 11 games, as none of them will be able to match MI on points.

A scramble for the final two positions will be the USP of the final league matches, with  even the ninth and 10th placed Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals (both on eight points each but from 10 games) technically not yet out of contention.

The two teams who have certainly jeopardised their positions after a consistent show upfront in the season are the Royals and Royal Challengers. Royals will be up against the resurgent Knights at the latter’s fortress at the Eden on Thursday in what promises to be an intriguing spin battle.

While the permutation and combination continues, the IPL watchers are still waking up to a morning after syndrome after Suryakumar Yadav’s calculated assault on a RCB attack which boasts of Mohammed Siraz, Jos Hazzlewood, Harshal Patel and Wanindu Hasaranga.

It was heartening to see the duo of Ishan Kishan and SKY take charge to offset for the woeful lack of form on part their much-decorated skipper Rohit Sharma. ‘’Sky had been batting at a different level,’’ remarked an awestruck teammate Behrendorff as Mr 360 of Indian cricket shrugged off a slow start to the season with a 83 off 35 balls.  

Rohit, who had been brutally trolled as ‘No-hit man’ for nightmarish run this season, found enough support from his teammates though. ‘’He (Rohit) had been hitting the ball well at the nets. The intent was there as well today as he stepped out on a number of occasions but the execution often did not come through. He is a class act as just need a couple of good shots to hit form,’’ Behrendorff added after the RCB win.

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