Mumbai Indians players celebrate the wicket of Andre Russell, who was undone by a fiendish Malinga bouncer from around the stumps. Courtesy: Pradip Das

Smart planning from Mumbai Indian’s think tank and smarter execution by their bowlers scripted their victory, propelling them to the top of the table. They were, no doubt, aided by some unimaginative batting, symbolised by Robin Uthappa’s woes. Here’s how it all unravelled.

Uthappa’s Woes

To an extent, it was self-created but Mumbai knew what trigger points to press. On his bad days, his off-side strokeplay can just be one shot – that dab to thirdman with the bat turning all the way around, giving himself little chance to connect. Mumbai bowlers, in particular Mitch McClenaghan who bowled a maiden at him, hurled it wider outside off stump and he kept missing it. He didn’t watch the ball closely, he didn’t allow for it to come on to his bat, and no wonder he kept missing them. As he grew increasingly desperate, Uthappa started to try smear everything to the on- side, losing his balance at the crease and as a result failing to get any wood on the leather. His troubles almost made one cringe and wonder what was swirling in his head as he went through the nightmare at Wankhede.

Did he think about what Andre Russell would be muttering under his breath in the dug-out? If not Russell, the KKR fans and the management surely? It also makes one wonder whether he should have been sent in at No.3 at all; wouldn’t Nitish Rana, who has been in better form this season, have been a better option?

Uthappa couldn’t even throw his wicket away as Russell and Karthik fell in quick succession and he had to try stay put in the middle, hoping for a revival. It never came.

Virat Kohli has had a tough time as a captain this season but no one has copped it more than Karthik. Russell has panned him in public, former KKR player Manoj Tiwari has trolled the leadership on Twitter, and fans have rammed him on social media. Then he came out to bat in the 9th over— Jacques Kallis said that they had planned to get Russel after 10 overs on this pitch, and couldn’t get going. Uthappa’s struggles piled on more pressure and he fell, whipping a delivery to midwicket. Again, Mumbai hardly gave him any width, didn’t allow him to pull or cut and he couldn’t break free.

Russell Combusts

When Lasith Malinga went round the stumps to Chris Lynn, Anil Kumble was shocked. Not because it wasn’t the right move, he revealed on air, but apparently it was a suggestion that Kumble had tried a lot with Malinga during his Mumbai Indians days, especially to bowl against MS Dhoni but was always told that he wasn’t comfortable with that angle. As it turned out, it was something he was working for Russell. He went around the stumps and fired a bouncer that screamed across Russell, who tried to drop his wrists and get his bat out of the way but he got a feather touch through to the wicketkeeper. Yet again, another clear plan that came off.

The shenanigans inside the KKR dressing room haven’t come out in all it’s details yet and much has been said about Russell’s decision to come out in public with his criticism. He has openly talked about batting at No.4 but the management has resisted it. When Uthappa and Karthik were struggling in the middle, the camera zoomed to Russell, sitting head down and staring at the ground. What was he thinking? There was no reason to guess what his teammates were thinking when he got out. Utter shock and gloom had descended on their faces – they knew their superhero wasn’t going to pull them out of the mess and probably the realisation that their campaign was coming to an end.

Other Plans

The way Mumbai bowled to nearly every one of the batsmen was praiseworthy. Shubman Gill has shown a penchant to hang way back in the crease and showing preference for the midwicket region. Hardly any runs straight down the track and Mumbai bowlers kept bowling full to him. Then came the killer blow – a slower one. Gill’s record against pace has been good but he has struggled with the slower ones this season. Perhaps, it’s a combination of him standing well back inside the crease and his upright posture that doesn’t quite allow him to lean forward. By standing back, he allows the slower cutters to do their thing -deviate more than a batsman on the front foot would face, and Hardik Pandya trapped him lbw off his first delivery.

Only against Lynn did they slip up a bit initially, bowling far too full at him, allowing him to swing through. Krunal Pandya, who impressed with his thinking, varied the line really well, cramping up Lynn, and his brother Hardik rectified the errors of the other pacemen by drawing back the length and slipping a slower one to produce a miscued hit.