Mumbai Indians has been the team to beat in the 2020 Indian Premier League hands down. They were the first team to not only qualify for the playoffs, but finish the league stage with 19 points following nine wins. This season, the defending champions seem to have broken their ‘odd-even’ jinx and have secured a place in the final of the IPL with a resounding win over Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 1 on Thursday.

Gautam Gambhir, the former India opening batsman and captain of the two-time winning IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, however, has identified one batsman in particular as someone who not only handles the innings but even scores at a good strike rate. The player is none other than Suryakumar Yadav, who has been one of the architects of MI’s campaign with 461 runs.

Suryakumar, who was ignored for India’s tour of Australia, recorded his fourth half-century of the season, scoring 51 against DC in Dubai helping MI post a competitive 200/6. Gambhir reckons in Suryakumar, MI have found a big-plus and the fact that he has such brilliant batsmen to follow, gives him the license to play well and dictate terms.

“You keep talking about someone anchoring the innings and scoring at a good strike rate. Suryakumar Yadav anchors the innings and scores at 130, 135-plus strike rate, which is a great plus for Mumbai Indians. He’s someone who can play through the innings and hurt the opposition,”

“Then you know that you have the firepower of Kieron Pollard, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, all these guys can hurt you in the end overs - and you’re No. 3 who is supposed to bat long. What more do you want from your batting line up. I guess that’s why Mumbai is where it is right now.”

Gambhir weighed in on how MI can be stopped, saying the only way to do so is to somehow for the opposition to find a way and stop them at 150-160. If MI can get more than that batting first, the total is a cushion for their bowlers, unless a rare blitzkrieg such as the one produced by Ben Stokes unfolds.

“Unless and until you don’t restrict Mumbai Indians to 150-160, you have the bowling to defend that. The moment they get to 180, it’s very difficult for any opposition to compete, let alone win. Apart from Ben Stokes’ brilliance, I don’t think any team can chase down 190-plus,” Gambhir said.