'Mum-bye Indians’: The team that failed themselves this year

Although the team has over the years proved that it performs surprisingly well under pressure, Mumbai certainly should look back at their performance this year and wonder, “Where did it go wrong?”

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Delhi ended the Indian Premier League game for Mumbai Indians as the boys in blue lost by 11 runs. The defending champions seemed a shadow of their former self this season. The team began with a rather unlucky start as they lost well-fought matches where the rivals just got the better of the situation. I was hoping for the boys in blue to bounce back and move ahead with more courage. And they did against Royal Challengers Bangalore when the captain, Rohit Sharma scored a match-winning knock of 94 runs.

But later, they lost against the other ‘boys in blue’ due to the cameo by Krishnappa Gowtham who snatched the match from Mumbai. In this match, Rohit Sharma scored no runs and returned to the dugout after facing just one delivery! Well, particularly I wouldn’t blame Mumbai for the defeat but the next match was what agitated me the most. Being a Mumbaikar, I supposedly had a soft corner for Mumbai Indians. But after their match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, where they were choked and were bowled out for mere 87 runs while chasing an easy target of 118, I was taken aback. I mean this team had lifted the cup last year and all they had to do was build some decent partnerships.

This was by far, the worst display by Mumbai Indians as a team. I know how all the Mumbai supporters would criticise me for saying it and you’d ward the poor performance off by calling it, a ‘game of uncertainty’. I would have agreed but here are a few things I noticed from the matches Mumbai has played throughout the season:


Middle Order Crisis

Every team struggles initially but they need to get up and bounce back. Similarly, it took Mumbai Indians a couple of matches to find the right opening combination, Evin Lewis and Suryakumar Yadav. Together the duo made the bowlers plead for mercy during the powerplay overs and earned their place at the top of the order.

However, the middle order has struggled which led to Mumbai’s defeat this season and I certainly hold Sharma responsible for it. The bowlers were phenomenal in their field of expertise, the openers did a good job and the finishers played their roles well too. But it was the middle order and especially Sharma because I personally feel the leader must take charge of any match and is always responsible for a victory or a defeat.

In addition to this, none of the middle order batsmen has made any significant contribution to the runs which often puts Mumbai in a position where they are 20 to 25 runs short. Pollard, Sharma and Ishan Kishan may have scored runs but they misfired just when they were not supposed to.

Although Mumbai tried making a late comeback on the Points Table, the team lost their way to the playoffs due to lack of building partnerships in the middle overs.


Team Work

This is basic but pivotal. There are eleven players that play a match for your team and all of them need to contribute in some way to guide the team to victory. And few Mumbai players made sure to put all their spirit in the game.
Mayank Markande, the debutant was one of the best bowlers of the league this season and remained consistent with his bowling. Suryakumar was just in his dream form and his classy innings provided the necessary power start to the team. The Pandya brothers have always given their best by proving their worth with bat and ball.

But you see, that’s where the problem lies. Four to five players cannot make the mark that an eleven-player squad can. Because good players win you matches but only a good team can win you the tournament.

Well, I am not a critic but as a cricket fan, I expect to let my emotions get the better of me sometimes. No one could have held back Mumbai Indians but Mumbai Indians themselves. And when they’ll look back to their journey of this season, they’ll realise how some “ifs” would have placed them in the qualifiers.

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