Suryakumar Yadav of Mumbai Indians
Suryakumar Yadav of the Mumbai Indians square cuts against the Rajasthan Royals during IPL 2020 in Abu Dhabi on October 6, 2020. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCC

Four wins in a row. That too, so early in the Indian Premier League. It’s very unlike Mumbai Indians, who are notoriously poor starters. IPL 2020 has been very different for Mumbai. Rohit Sharma’s side have put behind them the defeat against the Chennai Super Kings in the opener and galloped away. Rajasthan Royals are the latest rivals who were steamrolled by the Mumbai juggernaut.

The 57-run win in Abu Dhabi offered enough clues to Mumbai’s continued success. They played like the champions they are. On Tuesday, openers skipper Sharma and Quinton de Kock rattled up 49 in good time. When Mumbai lost a handful of quick wickets to the Jofra Archer-led bowling, Suryakumar Yadav (79 off 47 balls) held the innings together expertly and even accelerated later in the company of Hardik Pandya. You get an idea of the batting depth when Mumbai score 193 without a Kieron Pollard assault in the slog overs.

The Mumbai pace attack is perhaps the best in IPL. The Royals will agree as they ran into Trent Boult, James Pattinson and Jasprit Bumrah (4-20), who shared eight wickets. The spinners, Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya, are reliable but they suffered when Jos Buttler (70 off 44) went on a rampage. That was the lone bright spot in the Rajasthan innings that unravelled after captain Steve Smith and Sanju Samson essayed poor strokes.

What went wrong for Rajasthan?

Rajasthan was never in the chase after losing top three batsmen inside the powerplay, although Buttler threatened to revive them. A fragile middle-order didn’t help. Maybe, Ben Stokes can change that.

Two of the night’s highlights were the sensational catching of the Mumbai Indians. Substitute Anukul Roy and Pollard held on to two absolute blinders, and that is so heartening in a tournament marred by poor catching in the outfield.

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Where do the teams go from here? Mumbai Indians are indeed the side to beat. Will they burn out when IPL 13 reaches its business end? Doesn’t look like it, given their squad strength where Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn and other stalwarts are warming the bench.

For Rajasthan, it’s time for some deep introspection. Perhaps, their best bowler Archer should open the bowling to grab early wickets. Batting is the main source of concern. Smith and Samson powered their only two wins in five matches. So the two have to apply themselves a lot more. Or else, the wooden spoon is Rajasthan’s for the taking.