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It has been a forgettable two weeks for Mumbai Indians in the UAE. Abhijit Banare looks at some of the common patterns in struggling teams which is evident in Mumbai’s performance.
Statistics have already termed the Indian Premier League (IPL) 7 as the worst start for Mumbai Indians. Just for the record, no defending champion has started their season with four consecutive losses. There are five probable reasons mentioned below, but it is interesting to understand that these are tendencies which are often seen in teams not having a good run.
In other words, when the results aren’t coming your way, there is a set pattern which is visible in the team irrespective of which format it or which franchisee or national team it is. It’s always good to recap these patterns every time they happen, so here are some of the key points.
Rigidity with team selections: It has been four matches, Mumbai have been playing with the same XI. There are two ways to look at it: it is not ideal to display knee-jerk reaction by fiddling with the team after one or two losses; however, when it slowly starts becoming a pattern and the only way to get out of it to change and change the playing XI. Remember India’s 0-4 humiliation Down Under when despite the world yelling for change, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had persisted with his playing XI.
Inability to adapt to the conditions: In every match, Mumbai had somehow looked they landed in UAE a few hours back. Time and again the batsmen failed to read the conditions. Except for Sharjah, the other two pitches were good for batting. Yet somehow Mumbai managed to place themselves in desperate situations. Someone like Kieron Pollard, who is known to go hammer and tongs struggled to get away on the slow pitches. And so was the case with most other batsmen including the experienced Michael Hussey.
Indian talent not working: This has been a common aspect in all the teams that ended in the bottom half of the table since the first season. None of the Indian players in Mumbai’s camp have been able to impose themselves in their performance. Be it Aditya Tare, Ambati Rayudu, CM Gautam or even the skipper Rohit Sharma. All of these players have looked fluent in patches but the ability to take the team through was missing. And this was precisely what made Mumbai strong in the last three seasons. The Indian camp was almost the best in the tournament. This time around, Mumbai have Jalaj Saxena, Apoorva Wankhede, Sushant Marathe and Shreyas Gopal. Even if they are included at this juncture, the pressure to deliver will only multiply.
Low confidence This is a culmination of all the above points. When things don’t go your way, self-doubt is sure to creep in and a solid team looks fragmented. The lofted shots which otherwise lands in the stands now starts taking the leading edge or taking off from toe end of the bat and lands in the hands of the fielders. That’s how losses make a dent in the confidence.
Lack of young legs: Hussey, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh are in their 30s and none of them have had impressive performances. Hussey’s place in particular needs to be reassessed as he is occupying the overseas slot at the top. But it’s evident that Hussey hasn’t performed with the same consistency as he did with Chennai Super Kings. The format may be about big hitting but every team that needs one batsman who can hold the innings together. Cheteshwar Pujara has been doing that quietly with the Kings XI Punjab and Hussey was Mumbai’s go to man in this area but his poor run of scores is hurting as rest of the stroke players are unable to balance between caution and aggression which Hussey does best.
Can Mumbai script a turn around? ‘Cricket is a game of uncertainties’ reads the cliché but the more you lose, the more difficult it gets to get your basics right. Mumbai will certainly get an opportunity because they will be shifting to new conditions. And there can be nothing better than winning on home turf with fans supporting you. But Mumbai virtually have to script a win in all of their India matches, which is nothing short of calling impossible considering the situation they find themselves in.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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