Mumbai Indians coach Ricky Ponting expects an improved performance from batsmen in RCB clash at Wankhede today
Mumbai Indians are defending champions, but there have been hardly any signs of them looking to defend their Indian Premier League (IPL) crown.
MI coach Ricky Ponting
Although the bowling has looked tight despite Lasith Malinga's absence, the batting has been vulnerable. Four matches into the ninth edition already and Mumbai Indians are yet to find a steady batting line-up. The constant tinkering with the batting positions hasn't benefitted them either.
Coach Ricky Ponting said the absence of a genuine No 3 batsman was the reason for the shuffling in the line-up.
"With Rohit (Sharma) going up to open, we did not have a specialist No 3 batsman, as (Jos) Buttler and (Kieron) Pollard normally bat at No 4 and No 5. Ambati Rayudu has excelled whenever he has batted down the order for MI.
Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma during his unbeaten 84 against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens last week. Pic/AFP
Rayudu batted well at No 6 earlier with Pollard, so the only option we had was to send Hardik (Pandya) to bat at No 3. But the experiment didn't work for us. So we put Rayudu at No 3 when Rohit decided to bat at No 4 and Rayudu played very well in the last game. So, Rayudu will stay at No 3 for the next few games," said Ponting on the eve of their clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore yesterday.
No big scores
It is not only the shuffling that has hurt MI. Scoring at a slow pace is another reason the Mumbai Indians have not been able to post bigger totals.
Royal Challengers Bangalore's big-hitter AB de Villiers during a practice session at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday
In the opening match against Rising Pune Supergiants, Mumbai Indians crossed the 100-run mark only in the penultimate over. They could muster only 37 runs for four wickets in the Powerplay overs.
Then, in the match against Kolkata Knight Riders, where Mumbai Indians ended up on the winning side, MI benefitted from the good start (53 runs) their openers Rohit Sharma and Parthiv Patel provided. The MI batsmen also scored runs at a better rate than their previous match.
Against Gujarat Lions, the team once again struggled at the top, losing wickets at regular intervals which never allowed the MI batsmen to get any momentum as they were 88-6 in 16 overs. However, a late surge from Tim Southee and Krunal Pandya helped MI get 55 runs in the last four overs to take them to 143-8.
The script against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday was no different as the Mumbai Indians batsmen once again struggled to get the scoreboard ticking. After losing debutant Martin Guptill for two, MI's efforts of building a partnership were thwarted by the SRH bowlers. This time MI crossed the 100-run mark in the
Ponting admitted this could be one of the reasons for his team not getting favourable results. "It (slow start) could be one of those reasons. A few seasons ago when we were winning in a row, we had pretty much the same line-up and did not change too many things.
"A lot of it has been forced as well when guys don't do their roles and you look for other options. Again, we don't want to use that as an excuse. We have been disappointing so far and the team didn't play the way we wanted," concluded Ponting.
Rohit Sharma Mumbai Indians
> Krunal Pandya provides an all-round show
> Pacers McClenaghan, Tim Southee take quick wickets
> Opener Martin Guptill provides a flying start
Virat Kohli Royal Challengers Bangalore
> AB de Villiers deals in fours and sixes
> Mumbai Indians openers flop again
> MI pacers Mitchell McClenaghan, Southee are tackled well