That Mumbai Indians have relied heavily on Lasith Malinga all these years is a known fact. And now that the Sri Lankan pacer is off-colour, Rohit Sharma's team seems to be falling apart.
Despite Mumbai Indians posting their highest Indian Premier League-8 total (183-7 against Chennai Super Kings) on Friday, they still went on to lose by six wickets and 20 balls to spare at the Wankhede Stadium. Malinga was hammered for 40 in his four overs and took just one wicket, that of CSK's Faf du Plessis.
Friday's match was not just an aberration; Malinga went for 1-41 against Rajasthan Royals at Ahmedabad on April 14. He was slightly better against Kings XI Punjab, claiming two wickets for 34 runs but conceded 27 runs without taking a wicket in the opener against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8.
For Mumbai Indians to open their winning account today against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Malinga's return to form is crucial.
Pacer Lasith Malinga during a Mumbai Indians training session. Pic/Suresh KK
Rohit admitted that Malinga himself is concerned about his form. "He knows that himself. We had a chat with him. He himself was a little down. Even today (Friday), he tried his best, got one wicket, but it was just not any bowler's day," Rohit told reporters after four successive losses.
The MI skipper, however, is confident that Malinga will bounce back strongly. "For a bowler like Malinga, it's just about one game. In 2013 when we won the IPL, the first seven to eight games he was not there.
But we knew the kind of bowler Malinga is and all what he has done over the years for Sri Lanka and for Mumbai Indians. He came up with a winning spell against Chennai in the final then. So, we believe in him.
It's just the matter of one game where he needs to get whatever he wants from that game. We all know his strengths," Rohit added.