A breathtaking display of power-hitting from Krunal Pandya was the highlight of Mumbai Indians’ 80-run win over the Delhi Daredevils on Sunday night. Batting at number three, Krunal plundered seven fours and six sixes in his 37-ball 86 – this on a pitch where the rest of his teammates took time to come to terms with the surface – and set up the match for his team. Mumbai Indians posted 206-4 and then skittled out the visitors for 126 to post a commanding victory.
Krunal walked in to bat in the seventh over after his captain Rohit Sharma and Martin Guptill had set up a platform with a 46-run stand. Krunal scored 5 runs off the first five balls he faced. But once he decided he had seen enough and had a good idea of the conditions, he exploded; he pulverised the Delhi Daredevils spinners, hitting them for 69 runs from 27 balls. When he went after the ball, he went hard at it and gave it a proper whack; he peppered the arc between long-on and midwicket, hitting all his six sixes in that region. Krunal raced to his maiden IPL half-century off only 22 balls. Not satisfied with the havoc he had already caused, the 25-year old carried on and looked good to convert it to maiden century too. In the 16th over, he hit Amit Mishra for a four and two sixes. In the seventeenth, he deposited a short delivery from Zaheer Khan over the midwicket boundary.
When on 86, Krunal attempted to whip a delivery outside off through the leg-side, but lost his shape and only managed to drag the ball back onto the stumps. He walked off the ground to thunderous applause from the MI supporters in the stands and all the personnel in the MI dugout. Younger brother Hardik Pandya gave him a warm bear hug just as Krunal crossed the boundary ropes. Krunal’s sensational knock had put MI in the driver’s seat; they were 173 for 3 after 17.2 overs when Krunal was dismissed, which was stretched to 206-4 at the end of the twenty overs, thanks to cameos from Jos Buttler (18 from 9 balls) and Ambati Rayudu (13 from 5 balls).
Earlier in the evening, Rohit Sharma and Martin Guptill – Mumbai Indians’ fifth opening pair of the season – added 46 before the former cut Amit Mishra to point in the seventh over. Guptill though carried on and batted until the 15th over; the Kiwi batsman struggled for timing, found the weather conditions trying, yet persevered. He made 48 from 42 balls and hit two fours and three sixes and had the best seat in the house to watch Krunal’s pyrotechnics.
Amidst all the carnage, the Delhi Daredevils captain was outstanding with the ball; Zaheer Khan finished with an economy rate of 5.75 – when the next best economy rate in the innings was 8.50. Chris Morris bowled two good overs at the death. The three spinners – Mishra (1-42), Imran Tahir (0-59) and Nadeem (0-42) – had a forgettable day on the park; despite the turn available for them, they continued to bowl quickly through the air and were taken to the cleaners.In pursuit of 207, the Delhi Daredevils’ chase never really took off. Quinton de Kock was the only batsman to post a respectable score; the left-hand opener made 40 before he was dismissed in the tenth over. Rishabh Pant’s 23 was the second-highest score of the innings. The 35 runs de Kock and Karun Nair added for the second wicket was the highest partnership in DD’s chase. DD were eventually bowled out for 126 in 19.1 overs.