No franchise in world can play like ‘unbelievable’ Mumbai Indians: Lara

‘It’s the continuity (that makes MI special). They have got players who have been there for some time...That's been the key for them,’ says Lara

Mumbai Indians' players celebrate after winning the IPL title for the fifth time, in Dubai, on Tuesday (November 10). Photo: Twitter/IPL

West Indies batting legend Brian Lara has heaped praise on Mumbai Indians (MI) after the Rohit Sharma-led franchise won their fifth Indian Premier League (IPL) title in Dubai on Tuesday (November 10).

MI thrashed Delhi Capitals by five wickets, sealing the title in the 19th over of the IPL 2020 final at Dubai International Cricket Stadium. MI are the only team in IPL history to have won five trophies. Also, they are the second franchise, after Chennai Super Kings (2010, 2011), to have won back-to-back titles.

In the last year’s final, Mumbai had edged Chennai by one run. And, this time, amid the coronavirus pandemic and staying in a bio-secure bubble, they have done it again.

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Mumbai’s first IPL title arrived in the year 2013, and they went on to be the champions in 2015 and 2017. Now, they have two in a row, all under Rohit’s captaincy. In a way, they have broken the jinx of not taking the silverware home in an even year.

Mumbai Indians’ captain Rohit Sharma smiles as he holds the IPL trophy. Photo: Twitter/IPL

After Mumbai lifted the trophy, Lara, speaking on Star Sports, called them an “unbelievable” team. And, according to him, there is no franchise in the world that can play like them.

“They are an unbelievable team. If they are not at the top, they are very close to the top (team). I think there is no franchise in the world that can play cricket like Mumbai Indians,” Lara said.

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“I think it’s the continuity (that makes MI special). They have got players who have been there for some time. At some point of time, you obviously tend to think about changes but they have continuity. They back certain players, they have been around for five championship titles. That’s been the key for them,” the former West Indies captain added.

Mumbai Indians’ Trent Boult celebrates a wicket with Jayant Yadav in the IPL 2020 final. Photo: Twitter/IPL

Lara said Mumbai have a player for every situation. “When I look at them, from the very beginning, what I like is the storyline. For every scene, they have got a character. When they have trouble up front, they have got Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan. They have got the big-hitters in Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya and the pace attack.”

In this year’s final, Mumbai dominated right from the start. Only thing, which went against them was the toss. After choosing to bat first, Delhi were dealt a big blow in the very first ball as Trent Boult sent back Marcus Stoinis. Further, the first-time finalists were reduced to 22/3 in 3.3 overs.

At this stage, it was left to captain Shreyas Iyer (65) and Rishabh Pant (56) to revive the innings. Both hit half-centuries and helped the team post 156/7. But, the total was never enough to threaten the mighty Mumbai batting line-up.

In reply, Rohit top-scored with 68, and Ishan Kishan remained unbeaten on 33 to win in 18.4 overs. Krunal Pandya hitting the winning run off paceman Anrich Nortje.

Mumbai had topped the league table with 18 points (nine wins) and on way to the title they lost only five games. Against Delhi, they completed a 4-0 rout. They had beaten them in both the league games, then in Qualifier 1, and again in the final.

It was a tournament to remember for Mumbai’s young batsman Kishan, who smashed the most number of sixes this season, 30. He ended up as Mumbai’s top run-getter with 516 runs from 13 innings. Opener Quinton de Kock too breached the 500-run mark, scoring 503, and Suryakumar Yadav aggregated 480 runs.

Mumbai coach Mahela Jayawardene, when asked about the team’s six-hitting ability, said, “I think the six-hitting has been in Mumbai’s DNA for a while. What we try is to play to a tempo, the touch play. Credit to the franchise who allow us to do this, make a bit of history. It’s all about helping them prepare and make sure they understand the roles they play, making things easy for them.”

Mumbai players are ecstatic after the IPL 2020 final win. Photo: Twitter/Sachin Tendulkar

On the pressure of being the defending champions and not winning in an even year, the coach said, “I wish I could explain myself. I don’t think it was easy. You have the tag of being champions and Mumbai not winning the even years – so I had to bring the boys together. What we’ve done is try and be consistent with the processes and preparation, trying to get the guys used to that. Not try to do anything more or less. Obviously, this year has been a little different. But the guys enjoyed that setup.”

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