The thirteenth match of the IPL 2021 tournament will witness Delhi Capitals taking on Mumbai Indians at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium. The Battle between the finalists of the last edition could all be about match-ups. We take a look at a key game plan that could play an important role in the 13th game of the IPL 2021 – DC vs MI.
DC vs MI, Game Plan – Can Hardik and Pollard find a way to provide the finishing touch?
In Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard, Mumbai Indians are blessed with two of the best T20 finishers in the world. Their contribution in the dominance of MI over the years has been immense. The two have given the team late power-hitting push time and again. To understand their impact, let’s just take a look at their numbers in Mumbai Indians’ last two title-winning campaigns. The duo has mind-blowing numbers in the death overs phase in 2019 and 2020. Hardik and Pollard have an average of 46 at a strike rate of over 220, it is simply ridiculous!
In IPL 2021 though, Pollard and Hardik have failed to emulate the performances from the last two editions. In the first three matches, Pollard has scored 47 runs at a strike rate of 120 while Hardik has managed 35 runs at 109 SR. As a result, MI have struggled to put up good totals on the board. Mumbai Indians have collapsed big time in overs 17-20, scoring 24/5, 33/6 and 43/2 in three matches.
Now sure the slow nature of the pitches have played a part but the power-hitting brothers have some obvious weaknesses in their game. Fortunately for them and MI, opponents haven’t really exploited their issues much in previous years. But things are changing and teams are now targeting these hitters with pace and hard lengths.
As you can can see here, since IPL 2020, the duo of Hardik and Pollard has smashed anything that’s on full length. But as soon as the bowlers pull their lengths back, the false shot percentage of these batters shoots up. So far in IPL 2021, RCB’s Harshal Patel, Kyle Jamieson, KKR’s Prasidh Krishna, Cummins and Andre Russell have troubled MI batsmen with pace on right lengths.
Mumbai Indians will now face Delhi Capitals who have the best bowling attack to dismantle MI’s middle and lower middle order. DC will most likely play all three of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Avesh Khan. All three are capable of hitting those lengths at express pace.
Can they really do anything about it in the middle of the tournament? It’s nearly impossible to work on age-old issues in a quick span. However, Mumbai Indians should try splitting the two by pushing Pollard up the order, maybe to even number 4. Pollard is experienced enough to punish full length tripe or spin. Hardik has so far missed out on punishing fuller deliveries too because he’s waiting for that short one. It’s something he has to address quickly.
Although Ishan Kishan’s last season’s exploits against pace could well be an outlier, it wouldn’t be a bad decision to push him down to 5, especially considering the off-spin threat DC possess. Ishan has also struggled to start quickly in the middle overs against spin. The switch could be worth a try.
Mumbai Indians could also ask one of Rohit Sharma, who happens to be the best pace hitter in the team or Suryakumar Yadav, who can access the different parts of the ground against pace especially the short square boundaries to bat through the innings.
The surface at the Chepauk is quite difficult to even score off slower deliveries because of the grip it offers. But there’s no respite for MI as they’re playing 9 matches on the slow wickets of Chennai and Delhi. With the two openers being susceptible to spin, the late hitting becomes extremely important for MI. Sooner the MI finishers find a way, the better it is for the defending champions.