The 2020 Indian T20 League season has gone by in a flash and the two pre-tournament favourites, Mumbai and Delhi, will battle in the final to be crowned champions in the most unique circumstances in the league’s history.
Right from the start, I believed that these two teams were a cut above the rest and they proved me right by finishing first and second in the league stage and then dealing their way through the playoff muddle to reach the final.
Having keenly observed these two sides, I feel it’s still too difficult to call which team will win it all because both teams have proven match-winners that can turn a game on its head on their own. So, here’s my pick of four players, two from each side, that I believe will have a big say in the final:
Mumbai – Jasprit Bumrah
Every time I watch Bumrah bowl, I'm in awe of what he produces on the cricket field for his side with the ball in his hand. He started the season in a an unconvincing fashion, conceding well over eight runs an over, but he found his groove midway through the campaign and is now in the hunt for his first Purple Cap win. Bumrah has taken 15 wickets in his last six matches and has conceded over 6.25 runs just once in those half a dozen games. Delhi already know that they have to be wary of Bumrah after he dismantled them in Qualifier 1. It’s simple logic; when Bumrah does well, Mumbai follow suit. So if the speedster performs well in the final, expect Mumbai to win their fifth title.
Delhi – Shikhar Dhawan
Despite scoring three ducks in his last seven matches, Shikhar Dhawan is Delhi's most in-form batsman, a testament to just how substandard the rest of the batting order has been. But, simply chastising the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant does not tell the full story. Dhawan has hit two centuries and two fifties in the other four matches of the aforementioned seven-game stretch and is one of only two batsmen, alongside KL Rahul, with over 600 runs this season. In my opinion, Delhi only stand a chance against Mumbai if Dhawan bats the majority of their 20 overs and if he does, they can certainly usurp the reigning champions and win their maiden title.
Mumbai – Ishan Kishan
With Ishan Kishan, Mumbai have proved that perseverance pays off. Over the years, we have seen Mumbai being extremely patient in nurturing and fine-tuning raw talents like Jasprit Bumrah and the Pandya brothers, Hardik and Krunal, and are now reaping the benefits of it as each plays a crucial role in the team’s success. Similarly, they spent a boatload of money to sign young Ishan Kishan in 2018, knowing very well that they are signing a player for the future rather than the present and two years later, their patience is being rewarded as the southpaw has delivered. Kishan is now Mumbai's leading runscorer with 483 runs alongside Quinton de Kock and has shown that he’s capable of being the aggressor as well as the anchor when the situation demands. He has one more game to cap off the season in grand style and I'm backing him to do well in the final.
Delhi – Marcus Stoinis
When Delhi made the trade for Marcus Stoinis on the back of his incredible season in the Big Bash League, the team knew they were getting a superstar that could win games on his own for the side. He did exactly that in the first few matches but waned off a bit in the middle portion of the season, but here at the business end of the season, he’s playing his best cricket with both bat and ball, proving to be the difference-maker for Delhi. His 65 against Mumbai kept Delhi in the hunt and his incredible performance against Hyderabad, where he scored 38 with the bat and picked three wickets with the ball helped Delhi reach their first Indian T20 League final. Stoinis missed out in the final of the Big Bash League, scoring just 10 off four as his team succumbed to a defeat and he will be eager not to finish the year with two runner-up medals to his name.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter.com / Mumbai