It is nothing short than a nightmarish start for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League-7 (IPL).
Mumbai Indians’ Harbhajan Singh congratulates Parthiv Patel as skipper Rohit Sharma (right) looks on after the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Dubai on April 19
The team look to be in doldrums after losing to Delhi Daredevils on Sunday — their fourth straight loss. It is a similar start for the 2013 champions, who had suffered four defeats in a row during the inaugural IPL in 2008. However, the hue and cry is louder this time considering their champion status going into the tournament.
While most of the other seven IPL teams have been consistently posting more than 140 runs on the board, Mumbai Indians have scored 140-plus only once (against Chennai Super Kings on April 25). Astonishingly, no Mumbai Indians batsman has totalled 100-plus in four outings.
“The batting department is definitely not clicking for Mumbai Indians,” said Subroto Banerjee, who was MI’s bowling coach in the inaugural IPL. “It is hard to survive on sub-continental wickets. You need to give the bowlers some scope to defend. At least, 150-160 runs on the board are defendable.”
Mumbai Indians may have surprisingly let go Glenn Maxwell (tournament’s highest run-scorer so far), Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Smith in the last auction, but they also managed to buy Michael Hussey (last IPL’s highest run-scorer) and big-hitting Kiwi Corey Anderson. Having Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard along with the likes of Rohit Sharma, MI’s batting unit seemed formidable.
“It is a good batting side, but the batsmen are not able to convert their starts. It is a matter of getting the momentum. Hopefully, it will come after a win. They don’t need to put themselves under any pressure,” said Sameer Dighe, who was MI’s fielding coach in the first season of the IPL.
Lift your game, boys
Banerjee said domestic players will have to lift their game. “When you let go Maxwell, Smith and Karthik, who formed a formidable middle-order, your domestic players like Aditya Tare and Ambati Rayudu have to lift their game. They need to contribute a lot more. Corey Anderson may be a good batsman on quick wickets, but to bat on sub-continental wickets requires a different set of skills which he might be lacking,” said Banerjee.
Balvinder Singh Sandhu, India’s 1983 World Cup win hero, is keen to see MI skipper Rohit Sharma open the innings in all games. “Rohit should bat at the top. I don’t know why he is batting in the middle-order. The key is to bat the full 20 overs,” said Sandhu.
Mumbai Indians is the only IPL team to have a gamut of legendary figures in the support staff, ranging from Sachin Tendulkar (icon), Anil Kumble (mentor), Jonty Rhodes (fielding coach), John Wright (head coach) to latest appointee Ricky Ponting (advisor).
“It is clear that big names don’t guarantee success. MI will have the best of the inputs and strategy in place, but ultimately the 11 on the field have to implement it.
Keep it simple
“If you look from the other side, having so many stars (in your support staff) can also put players under pressure because it a case of living up to their expectations. It is important to keep things simple,” said Sandhu.
Dighe said: “It is good for upcoming cricketers who have such legendary figures to approach. It is a great learning experience. I don’t think MI need to panic. In 2008, we had a similar start, but we went on to win six consecutive matches thereafter. They can still come back.”
Banerjee was blunt: “These legendary figures cannot come and bat, bowl or field for you. The players have to learn to implement their plans and tactics.”
6.28: Mumbai Indians’ run-rate in IPL-7. The defending champions have scored 508 runs in 80 overs