No one would want to be Mumbai Indians right now. It is not easy being the most successful team in any competition and then finding yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel, desperately looking for scraps of sustenance as the clock ticks down. Even a week ago, it looked like this was just a glitch, one of the notorious “slow starts” that seem to afflict MI almost every Indian Premier League season. But as things begin to get closer to the days of reckoning, Mumbai Indians are still struggling to find answers, and the questionnaire gets progressively more daunting with every match they play.
The pattern essentially seems that MI cannot find the bowling combination that would deliver. They were always overly dependent on Jasprit Bumrah to deliver, match after match, and it seems that it was taken for granted that the rest would simply fall into place.
But the fast-bowling shelves have been drawn and stretched to the limits and one spinner seems to be all that MI can muster, and he too isn’t the best in the business.
Five matches lost, three while defending totals, says enough about the bowling predicament.
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Take the case of the match with Punjab Kings on Wednesday. The opening bowlers were clattered to all parts by Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan and, a good spell from Bumrah notwithstanding, even a loss of a couple of quick wickets wasn’t enough to restrict PBKS.
Same has been the case in almost all the matches. The least the MI bowlers had to defend was 151 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and they didn’t get close.
Twice, the bowling has given away over 190 runs.
When the IPL auction took place, there was certainty that MI would be looking for replacements for two crucial bowlers left-arm seamer Trent Boult and leg-spinner Rahul Chahar. They haven’t found any. Three left-armers Daniel Sams, Tymal Mills and Jaydev Unadkat have already been deployed with little impact, while Murugan Ashwin, the wrist-spinner in the fray, hasn’t been all that convincing.
Skipper Rohit Sharma is left to fight with the weapons he has been given, and few of them are sharp enough.
Even the batting has its issues. The feared line-up has a best of 177/5 off 20 overs and scores of 161 and 151 in the two other matches they have batted first. Also, when it came to chasing 190-plus, they didn’t even get close. The score of 186/9 against PBKS is their best batting effort so far.
The heads in hands and depressed outlook is becoming quite an epidemic in the MI camp, irrespective of the pep talk from the owners and the coaching staff. One wonders if the superstar team will recover or not. As of now, the picture is bleak indeed.
(This article was first published on india.com)