Throughout the tournament, Mumbai seemed like the team to beat and quite a few contributors stood out in their remarkable title-winning campaign. From young guns Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan to the versatile Kieron Pollard, the dynamic Quinton de Kock and the relentless Jasprit Bumrah, Mumbai stepped up across disciplines.
But what actually made them near-invincible this season was perhaps the underrated contribution from Trent Boult. Always a fan of left-arm seamers, from Mitchell McCleneghan to Jason Behrendorff and Mustafizur Rahman, Mumbai have had several left-arm pace bowlers - Mumbai unleashed Boult in the Powerplay with devastating effects.
The effect of Boult was manifold and perhaps laid the foundation for Mumbai's success. Seems overboard? Not really if you weigh in the most valuable phase of a T20 game.
Why early wickets are big
Early wickets in T20s are worth their weight in gold.
Firstly, the openers are usually two of the best batters in the side and sending one, or both back to the dugout early is incredibly useful.
Secondly, early wickets force most teams on to their Plan B as the No. 3 is in early and the batting depth question starts hovering over.
Thirdly, the tendency to go hard in the Powerplay is also cut down when you lose wickets upfront, thereby changing the approach of the team throughout the innings.
Boult picked up 16 Powerplay wickets this season, easily the most by any player. That Mumbai have a quality attack capable of running through teams even before Boult came in makes his contributions invaluable.
Every wicket Boult took made Jasprit Bumrah more dangerous and increased his threat as Mumbai could afford to use him late and against the best middle-order batsmen in the opposition side.
The effect of Boult's spells was evident from the fact that Jasprit Bumrah also picked up wickets and conceded runs at the second-best economy rate in the first six overs. Overall, Mumbai were the best team in the Powerplay with the ball by a significant margin.
Early, early wickets
That they had the opposition on the backfoot as many times as they did in the first six overs was tremendous. It made up for some slight tardiness in the middle overs and empowered them to go full tilt in the death with Jasprit Bumrah invariably having 1-2 overs to make a big impact.
Boult set them up even further by getting his Powerplay wickets early too. In a 20-over game, every over contributes immensely to the final cause and the value of a wicket in the first over is greater than that in the sixth over even if both are Powerplay overs.
Boult took eight wickets in the first over and a further six in the third over. Overall, 14 of his 16 Powerplay wickets came inside the first three overs of the innings itself. This adds massive value as it forces teams to not attack as much in the Powerplay. Also, with someone like Bumrah in the ranks, the opposition team is forced to look for runs too from Boult.
Overall, Mumbai hit teams hard in the Powerplay with the ball to dictate terms through the course of the innings and Boult was central to this plan, delivering time and again with the new ball.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter.com / Mumbai