IPL 2022 has started on a lethargic note without the usual fanfare and frenzy. Hardly anyone is bothered about the action unfolding in the current edition, which is quite strange. Are viewers getting increasingly tired of the desi T-20 carnival? Whatever it is, the buzz on the IPL is non-existent currently. Coming back to the annual showpiece event, it has so far thrown up some astonishing outcomes. Two of the successful teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI) are languishing at the bottom of the table currently. Whereas, the perennial strugglers such as Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals are currently perched comfortably on top. The CSK, led by a new captain Ravindra Jadeja, have finally managed to end the 4-match losing streak, thanks to the brilliance of Robin Uthappa and Shivam Dube. However, Mumbai Indians have had no such luck till now as they recently crashed to their fifth successive loss.
It is a known fact that MI are slow starters and they have had abysmal starts before as well, especially in 2014, when they lost all their league matches in the UAE leg but pulled things back dramatically in the Indian leg to storm into the playoffs. So, is this the lull before the storm or the beginning of the end for MI? Come let us look into the ills plaguing the Rohit Sharma-led outfit.
Bowlers’ Largesse Hurting Team Prospects
This is an area that needs immediate redressal as their bowlers have been very charitable with the opposition batsmen by spraying the ball to the latter’s liking. With the exception of Jasprit Bumrah others have struggled to check the flow of runs. Their prized catch Jofra Archer is recuperating from an elbow operation and he won’t be taking part in the current season. However, the MI think-tank can’t use this as a cover for the poor bowling efforts as they knew well in advance that the service of England bowler will not be there this year.
The available bowling riches of MI such as Tymall Mills and Daniel Sams have so far had one of the worst economy rates this season with 12.63 and 9.70 respectively. Plus, the local talents like Basil Thampi and Jaydev Unadkat have been even worse by leaking runs with alarming regularity at crucial junctures. Hence, if MI harbour any hope of making it to the playoffs they need their bowlers to get their act together and be more prudent and imaginative against the batsmen.
Senior and Expensive Batters Yet To Hit The Straps
If their bowling has been pathetic their batting has lacked the chutzpah of the past. Two of their premier batsmen skipper Rohit and the expensive new-age T-20 sensation Ishan Kishen have not lived up to the lofty expectations. Unfortunately, Kishen’s 178 runs from 5 matches with a strike rate of 121 hardly justifies the hefty sum the Ambani-owned franchise forked out to bring the Jharkhand-born player back into the fold.
To make it worse, Rohit with 108 runs from 5 matches at a strike rate of 133 is not in his element. For the sake of the team, Rohit can either push him down the batting order to bring the in-form batsman Suryakumar Yadav up the order or drop the veteran out-of-form Kieron Pollard and bring in either Fabian Allen or Tim David, the former is a multi-utility player and the latter is renowned for his batting skills. In reality, the Mumbai franchise does not have too much time to waste on getting the right players in the mix, so they need to usher in the changes as soon as possible.
Last But Not The Least
In fact, the task before MI is easy, they cannot afford any more slip-ups and win as many matches as possible, seven out of 9. These are yet early days as they have only played five matches so far, but one or two losses would make their progress to the next level extremely tight as these would make them heavily reliant on other team’s performance and no team would like their destiny to be in the hands of others.
Luckily, they are not in unfamiliar terrain as they faced early exits even in the past only to qualify for the playoffs at the last moment. This time, though, their stars do not look exactly aligned for a roaring comeback, especially with the bowling at their disposal. Adding to the existing problems, the erratic forms of star performers have also stood out like a sore thumb. So, the question that fits the current situation of MI is: Can they pull off another coup given the circumstances that they are in. A tough one to answer at the moment.