Mumbai Indians out of IPL playoffs after RR’s win; lightweight bowling, poor auction strategy, middle-order muddle hurt

Cricket

No support for Bumrah, an over-the-hill Pollard, misfiring Rohit, missing a Hardik-like all-rounder – the five-time champions’ cup of woes runneth over

Shared News: May 8, 2022 6:08:13 pm
Mumbai Indians have been knocked out of the playoffs race. (Source: iplt20.com)

On Saturday, Mumbai Indians became the first team in this year’s IPL to be knocked out of the playoffs race, after Rajasthan Royals beat Punjab Kings by six wickets. MI are at the foot of the table with just two wins from 10 games and the maximum they can get to is 12 points. They can’t match or go past Gujarat Titans, Lucknow Super Giants and Royals – the teams that are holding the top three positions in the table. Royal Challengers Bangalore are already on 12 points with three games to go and their net run-rate, -0.444, is far superior to MI’s -0.725. Delhi Capitals, at fifth and four games remaining, have a +0.641 net run-rate. From faulty auction strategy to a lightweight bowling unit and batting blues; a lot of things have contributed to the five-time champions’ downfall.

Lightweight bowling unit There’s a saying in cricket; a captain is only as good as his team. It can be paraphrased to, only as good as his bowling unit. Bowlers win matches and bar Jasprit Bumrah, MI don’t have bowling match-winners in their ranks this term.

Bumrah, too, hasn’t taken a bagful of wickets – five scalps in 10 matches at an economy rate of 7.93. With very little support at the other end, the opposition batsmen have just played out MI’s best bowler. Murugan Ashwin has taken eight wickets at an economy rate of 7.72. Pretty decent, but the leg-spinner hasn’t provided the required impact. MI always had a well-rounded bowling unit, which helped them defend in-between totals. In their tournament opener, they posted a pretty challenging 177/5 against Delhi Capitals. But DC comfortably chased down the target with 10 balls to spare.

There have been similar instances. Against KKR, they couldn’t defend 161. Even against CSK, despite losing wickets at regular intervals, they eventually reached a competitive 155/7. But the MI bowlers flattered to deceive and Jaydev Unadkat wilted under pressure at the death.

Absence of a quality left-arm quick has hurt MI. Trent Boult hasn’t been replaced properly. They bought Tymal Mills at the auction and also Daniel Sams, but both have failed to rise to the challenge. Mills went at an economy rate of 11-plus before being ruled out of the tournament due to an ankle injury, while Sams’ economy rate is touching 12.

Opening blues The law of averages seems to have caught up with Rohit. He was India’s most consistent batsman last year and a lean patch was probably due. In 10 games, the MI skipper has scored just 198 runs. Ishan Kishan’s off-form has compounded the team’s problems.

The left-hander, a Rs 15.25-crore buy at the auction, appears to be carrying the weight of his price tag. He has traded his high-octane batting for caginess. A strike rate of 116.88, opening the innings, has had been below par. The way he got out against CSK, playing down the wrong line to a Mukesh Choudhary delivery, the 23-year-old looked to be under pressure.

Mumbai Indians players in a huddle during IPL 2022. (Source: iplt20.com)

Middle-order muddle

The opening blues has had a trickle-down effect. Middle-order has always been put under pressure and collectively, the batsmen failed to perform. MI’s run rate had been below eight in the middle-overs, between seven and 15, in five of their first seven games and they lost 19 wickets during that phase.

Kieron Pollard is in the twilight of career, attested by his decision to quit international cricket. And the big man is looking a pale shadow of himself in the IPL. Dewald Brevis has shown flashes of brilliance. But at 18 years of age, he wasn’t expected to carry MI’s batting in his debut IPL season. He is a player for the future. And of late he has lost his place in the team, with Tim David coming back to the fold.

Kieron Pollard is in the twilight of career. (Source: iplt20.com)

Surya has been batting under enormous pressure almost every time he is coming to the crease, playing the role of an anchor, enforcer and finisher. This has forced him to curb his natural style and his team suffered as a result. MI have missed Hardik Pandya, but more on him later.

Auction strategy

In a mega auction year, it wasn’t possible for the franchise to retain every player or go for every released player at the auction. But some selections defied logic. Breaking the bank for Kishan was down to auction dynamics, but MI spent Rs 8 crore for Jofra Archer, knowing full well that the England fast bowler wouldn’t be available this season.

Also, not going for either Rahul Chahar or Krunal Pandya stripped the MI spin attack of international experience. Against CSK, they introduced 21-year-old Hrithik Shokeen, who had only eight List A games to show for. The youngster has given a good account of himself, but he is a defensive option.

Hardik’s absence

Mumbai Indians have missed the services of Hardik Pandya. (Source: iplt20.com)

The allrounder’s poor fitness record was a reason why MI decided to part ways with him. Hardik couldn’t bowl a single over in the last year’s IPL due to a niggle and he didn’t do much with the bat either. Also, grapevine had it that Hardik was eyeing a new franchise, which turned out to be Gujarat Titans, for Rs 15 crore. Losing him has cost MI dear, for they missed a proven performer, especially a finisher.

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