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IPL 2014: Mumbai Indians lack the punch that signified their title triumph last year

Lasith Malinga © IANS
Mumbai Indians have been heavily reliant on Lasith Malinga in IPL 7 © IANS

 

A bad auction has huge repercussions and Mumbai Indians have paid the price for it at the Indian Premier League 2014 so far, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.

A lot can change in one season, especially at the Indian Premier League (IPL). And, if you consider the possibilities at the yearly auction, a team can undergo a serious transformation. The defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) have looked a pale shadow of themselves at the IPL 2014, as they opened their season with three consecutive defeats. It hasn’t been a performance one expected from a side that has traditionally done well at the tournament. But, a look at their line-up would reveal that they do not have the same strength.

Since 2010, Mumbai have been a dominant force in the IPL. Not only did they blend in international stars, but also picked good Indian talent to find the perfect balance. This season, their team doesn’t seem to have the extra punch that put them in a position to win the tournament last year. At the outset, it is clear that they are heavily reliant on Rohit Sharma in the batting and Lasith Malinga in the bowling. While there are the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard and Harbhajan Singh, the other retained players, Rohit and Malinga are their leaders.

 

Last year, they had Sachin Tendulkar opening the batting with Ricky Ponting and later Dwayne Smith. The West Indies gave Mumbai the edge there with some breathtaking performances. His partner in the knockouts was Aditya Tare, who continues to show his talent in patches. But then, they picked an ageing Michael Hussey, which was a gamble of sorts. Although he won the Orange Cap last year, one can see that he has been struggling this season. It may be too early to write him off, but Hussey may not be the same force this year, as he has looked out of sorts.

In the middle, Rohit had Dinesh Karthik for company, who is a very reliable batsman. Along with Rayudu, they were part of a strong line-up. With that option lacking, they now have Corey Anderson, an aggressive hitter in the league of Pollard. With players of that nature, one cannot expect consistency and if both fail, the team could be in serious trouble. Thus, on paper, this batting line-up may look good, but the results may not transpire on the field of play. Anderson and Pollard are dangerous, but there is a chance of them failing in tandem.

In terms of bowling, there is too much for Malinga to do. Last season, one saw him work in tandem with Mitchell Johnson, who found his rhythm and worked himself into some good form. That combination was lethal and backed by Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha’s spin. This season they have Zaheer Khan, who may work well in patches, but isn’t at his best of form. To invest in him for the three years was a brave call and to top it all, he isn’t a very good fielder. Through all that, Mumbai don’t have a sound fifth bowling option, which could prove costly.

Looking at their roster, they do not have any other big name on their bench. There is a clear lack of depth in their side, as one of the commentators mentioned. Mumbai have not picked a good side and had a poor auction. How much would they be moaning over missing out on Glenn Maxwell, who could have been brought back on the Right to match card? The Aussie has almost single handedly inspired a good start for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP). Letting him go wasn’t Mumbai’s only mistake.

Back in 2008, Rajasthan Royals (RR) were the weakest side on paper and yet, Shane Warne inspired a remarkable title triumph. It all happened due to some teamwork, with a few individuals putting in stellar performances. During the same season, Mumbai had slumped to three defeats upfront, before hitting back with six consecutive victories. This season, Rohit’s men may take heart in those facts and keep their spirits alive after a discouraging start.

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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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