Dubai: Mumbai Indians are back again in their familiar territory in the Indian Premier League. The five-time champions, who finished last in the 10-team league last season, showed a glimpses of getting back their old magic with three consecutive victories, but their game seems to be slipping again after the twin losses against Punjab Kings and Gujarat Titans in their last two matches.
More than the losses, it is the manner in which they have lost those games are sending the wrong signals to the Mumbai fans. After the loss against Punjab, Rohit Sharma said that it’s a long tournament and he is not really worried about one loss, the third this season. But the two reversals show a particular pattern in their rivals’ game plan. The harsh truth is that Mumbai bowling lacks the bite.
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It is the death overs that have released the pressure on the rivals and in turn led the Men in Blue to their downfall after having conceded 96 runs against Punjab in the last five overs, while 94 runs were scored in the last six by Gujarat Titans on a pitch that had some assistance to the bowlers in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Those are plenty of runs and precious ones too. A rousing finish to an innings will give the team the morale boost when they come out to bowl and defend their total, which Punjab and Gujarat did to perfection.
The lack of depth and the inexperience in the bowling unit is letting the five-time champions down after getting a grip of the match in the early part of the game. For two matches in a row Mumbai have conceded 200-plus runs and those 20-25 extra runs are proving to be the winning margin in the final scheme of things.
Mumbai must be rueing the absence of their pace ace Jasprit Bumrah and the Jofra Archer, who was expected to fill in the void, is still not at his best and the England pacer even missed the game against Gujarat due to a niggle in the injured elbow.
Mumbai team management must be aware of their bowling woes, which is their weak-ling. Hence on the four occasions Rohit Sharma had won the toss and, without hesitation, has elected to field first, managing to win just one against Delhi Capitals.
Mumbai’s batting, their strength, is also powerless, not able to compensate for their inept bowling, complicating the whole process.
Skipper Rohit Sharma, fellow opener Ishan Kishan and Mr 360 Suryakumar Yadav, the world’s top Twenty20 batter in ICC Player Rankings, all have just one half-century to their credit in seven matches. Too little given the fact that the entire batting unit revolves around the trio.
Only Tilak Varma and Cameroon Green figure among the Orange Cap charts, way down at No 15 and No 17 with 219 and 199 runs respectively. With four loses from seven games, Mumbai can ill afford to have too many off days in the second half of the competition. The ease with which Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings overhauled the targets, eight wickets and seven wickets to spare respectively, certainly points fingers at the bowling department. Unless it is addressed at the earliest, Mumbai could well be out of the reckoning for the top four slots for a third straight year.