Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians won their first game of IPL 2014 by beating Kings XI Punjab at home © IANS (File Photo)
Mumbai Indians registered their first win in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 to end a five-match losing streak. They achieved the victory against Kings XI Punjab, who were on a five-match winning run. Mumbai’s long overdue win came at their fortress Wankhede Stadium. Shrikant Shankar writes how the historic stadium can help change their fortunes in IPL 2014.
“There’s no place like home” — A famous saying from Hollywood movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’, applies to almost everyone in the world. On May 3, 2014, Mumbai Indians realised how much that saying applied to them. Mumbai finally won their first match in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 to stop a five-match losing streak. The win is monumental as well, as it was achieved in their home ground at Wankhede Stadium. Although the team they beat — Kings XI Punjab — will not be of interest to Mumbai at the moment, as they would have taken victory against any team, but it is of significance. Punjab had entered the match with Mumbai’s mirrored form — a five-match winning run.
Mumbai’s win gives other teams in IPL 7 hope that Punjab can be beaten — even by the poorest team on form. Five teams had tried to get one over Punjab, but failed, so, they too would have been rooting for Mumbai. If one had offered a bet on Mumbai losing all their five matches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-leg before the start of IPL 2014, not many would have taken it. They are the defending champions and although the hierarchy’s decisions during the IPL 7 retention and auction raised more than one eyebrow, hardly anyone would have thought Mumbai would be languishing at the bottom of the table with no wins before their India-leg began.
As the IPL 2014 fixtures have panned out, Mumbai will play four more matches at Wankhede Stadium. Despite ending the losing run, Mumbai’s form is still poor. They need to get a winning-run going and to help them in a way, their next two matches also are at their historic home stadium. Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings are the next teams to visit Wankhede Stadium. Mumbai won all their eight home matches in IPL 2013 en route to winning the title. Most of the victories too were by good margins. They have clearly made the stadium a fortress. It was a team effort that helped them beat the in-form Punjab.
The big-names like Rohit Sharma, Corey Anderson, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga stepped up to perform on the day. That has been Mumbai’s bane in this season. Their stars have not performed up to potential so far. Even if they did, there was not a collective effort as against Punjab. Mumbai would hope this win would kick-start their IPL 2014 campaign with victories against Bangalore and Chennai. As after those matches, their next four assignments come away from home before closing off with two at Wankhede Stadium. So, a winning run would help them in those away fixtures.
One does not expect them to qualify for the play-offs now, but they could still be party-poopers to some teams and have a strong finish to the season. The quality Mumbai posses should see them get more victories than losses from now on, but things do not work like that in sports. Either way, Mumbai would just be delighted to get their first win on the board. There is another famous saying which goes as “Home is where the heart is”. For Mumbai Indians, both these refer to Wankhede Stadium.
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(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)