With every passing IPL season, the teams have also become smarter. More often than not, the tactically superior team walks away with the IPL trophy. This IPL was no different either. Mumbai Indians had a tactically shrewd coach in Mahela Jayawardene and it showed in the way they went about their business. It was therefore, not a surprise to see them win the trophy as they always seemed to have a plan.
There were also some tactical moves exhibited by the rest of the teams which often proved the difference between a win and a loss. Some paid off and some unfortunately didn’t.
Zampa to Kieron Pollard, Final:
Kieron Pollard has a great track record in the IPL finals. With Mumbai Indians staring down the barrel, they were hoping that KP would save the day again. And he started off authoritatively, smashing Zampa high over the fence. Kieron Pollard meant business but Pune had an ace up their sleeve. Zampa continued to toss up the ball to Pollard. This time they employed a straight long-off. Pollard couldn’t resist the temptation and holed out. Manoj Tiwary, who was stationed at straight long-off, gleefully accepted the offering. This plan had CSK’s signature all over it.
In the 2010 final, with the match in the balance, Mahendra Singh Dhoni employed a straight mid-off and a straight long-off. Pollard got out to Albie Morkel with mid-off snaffling the chance. Hayden was the fielder then. He was in the commentary box this time. Stephen Fleming was the CSK coach then, and Pune’s coach now. This may well have been Fleming/MS/Steve Smith’s plan and it tilted the balance of the 2017 final in their favour, only for them to stumble later in the night.
Bumrah to Lynn, Qualifier 2:
If there was one player in the KKR line-up who was capable of demolishing MI’s world-class bowling line-up, it was Chris Lynn. To neutralise the opponent’s gun batsman, MI opened with their gun bowler, Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah rarely opened the bowling this IPL, but to nullify Lynn’s threat they employed him early. That wasn’t the only master-stroke. Mumbai Indians placed a long-on. Lynn couldn’t clear Pollard at long-on and Mumbai Indians were well on their way to the final.
B Kumar to Maxwell, Game 19:
On a tricky pitch, Kings XI were chasing 160. Maxwell strode in to face the second ball of the innings after Amla was dismissed for a golden duck. In the third over, after Bhuvi had bowled two dot balls, David Warner dropped himself back to long-off. He stationed himself fifteen yards inside the boundary line. He was sensing a big shot from his countryman and he was right. Maxwell could not get underneath the length ball and skied it to Warner. Warner erupted in joy after seeing his plan succeed. The big fish was gone and it was Sunrisers’ game to lose from thereon.
Now, for the plans that didn’t work…
Delhi holding back Morris versus Sunrisers, Game 21:
One would think you would need your best hitter on the pitch when the asking rate is as high as 12. Not Delhi, though. In a bizarre decision, they promoted Mathews above Chris Morris. Sunrisers were happy to play along with this plan. They didn’t even attempt to dismiss Mathews when they had a chance. Chris Morris finally walked in when there was one ball remaining. The match was well out of Delhi’s reach by then.
Non-selection of Kuldeep Yadav, Qualifier 2:
Though this would not rank alongside Delhi’s blunder of dropping Morne Morkel in the 2012 Qualifer 1, the dropping of Kuldeep did raise quite a few eyebrows. On a Bengaluru pitch that offered so much help for the spinners, Gautam Gambhir preferred Rajpoot to Kuldeep. Kuldeep might not have won the match for his team but he surely would have been a threat. Karn Sharma and Piyush Chawla bowled some unplayable deliveries throughout the match and Kuldeep might have been too hot for Mumbai to handle.