Mumbai Indians batsmen have been as unpredictable as the Stock Exchange this season.
A classic example: It was baffling to see them surrendering meekly (149-9) in their playoff match against Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday, especially after a 10-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in the last league game. The team hardly dished out a dominating performance with most wins in the league stages being achieved in the last over.
Mumbai were over-dependent on toe-crusher Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan, who claimed 22 wickets, was never ably supported from the other end.
It wasn’t that they were short on resources. Mumbai failed to maximise the potential of Pragyan Ojha and RP Singh, who have been Purple Cap winners in the previous Indian Premier League editions.
The axe effect!
The constant changes in the batting line-up did no good to the team’s confidence. In the pursuit to find a destructive opening pair, the team’s think-tank ended up trying eight different combinations. Only Sachin Tendulkar-James Franklin pair got more than three matches together in the bargain.
The tinkering continued lower down the order too. As many as 24 players were tried out -- the most by a franchise in IPL-V along with Deccan Chargers.
Mumbai's objective was to strengthen their Indian contingent. They acquired Dinesh Karthik from Kings XI Punjab and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha from Deccan Chargers. They also bought medium pacer RP Singh in the auction for $600000. Karthik neither provided stability in the middle-order nor did the power-hitter find the sweet spot often. He finished the season with a disappointing 238 runs in 17 matches. Ojha (nine wickets in as many games) and RP (10 wickets from 11 games), who did wonders with Deccan Chargers over the years, failed to create the same magic this time.
Hiccups in home matches at the Wankhede Stadium provided Mumbai with ample opportunities to get their act together before the playoffs. But instead, they chose to blame the pitch after their losses. Had MI looked into their batting collapse more closely, things would have been better for them right now.
Over 200 ODIs and nearly 100 Tests under his belt, it was astonishing to find off-spinner Harbhajan Singh languishing at eighth spot in Mumbai Indians’ wicket-takers list. The skipper failed to lead from the front, claiming only six wickets in 17 matches at an economy rate of 7.11. His decision to not bowl his full quota of four overs on nine occasions also raised quite a few eyebrows.