Mumbai Indians Preview: Mumbai aim to shrug off familiar struggles in the beginning

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Mumbai Indians Preview: Mumbai aim to shrug off familiar struggles in the beginning

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Bastab K Parida

04/04/2017

They struggle in the beginning and then put up a big fight. Mumbai Indians’ story has been scripted on more or less these lines in last three editions of the IPL. They were able to make a fine turnaround in their fortunes after struggling to get into the groove in the opening matches.

Last season overview

Last year, Mumbai Indians had entered the tournament as the defending champions and also had retained their core team from the previous season- including skipper Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, and Mitchell McClenaghan. They had added Jos Buttler, Tim Southee, and Krunal Pandya to their ranks, which made them a strong contender for the trophy. But the Mumbai side couldn’t build on those resources and for the first time since 2009, failed to qualify for the playoffs, ending the tournament at the fifth position in the points table. So, what went wrong with the team?

From the very beginning of the season, the side was struck by some major injury blows. West Indian batsman Lendl Simmons, who had played a crucial role in the semifinal match against India at the World T20, played only the opening match before being ruled out for the rest of the season due to a back injury. Star pacer Lasith Malinga was also ruled out without playing a match due to continuous struggles with his left knee. An opening loss to debutant neighborsRising Pune Supergiants kicked off another slow start to the season, as Mumbai lost four of their first six matches.

Although they bounced back with three wins, those were not sufficient to compensate the early losses and go to the top. Their batting unit had struggled to adapt to the stickier surfaces of the adopted home ground of ACA-VDCA Stadium in Vishakhapatnam. Two heavy defeats towards the end of the season rattled them at the wrong time as they lost their last league match to Gujarat Lions, which ended their hopes of making the playoffs. But can they do it this year? 

Strengths

T20 cricket is perennially mercurial but despite that, some things become easier when you follow a particular strategy in the shortest version of the game. Mumbai has ticked one such box by maintaining a strong core over the years. And before going to the auctions this year, they too had retained their 20 players, with an almost certain playing XI. 

Captain Rohit Sharma has just come out of the thigh injury. So, much shouldn’t be expected from him right away. But with the presence of Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler, Mumbai top-order paints a confident picture. On the bowling front, Mumbai seems pretty well-settled as well. Lasith Malinga, though, is nowhere close to his best and has been fighting with injuries far too often, he has always done well in the IPL and a lot is expected from him. In the form of Mitchell McClenaghan, Mumbai have a man for all occasions. And again, Jasprit Bumrah, with all his brilliance in the shortest version, can make the life difficult for the opposition batsmen. 

Mumbai can also count themselves as lucky, as it hasn’t been suffered any big injury blows, rather two players- Rohit Sharma and Lasith Malinga have come out of long injury layoff to play the league. Mumbai would also hope that Tim Southee, who is recuperating from a minor hamstring problem, will get well soon. 

Weaknesses

Momentum in cricket or any of the sports for that matter is very important.  A win or two at the start of the campaign helps any team gain an upper edge in the league, but Mumbai is a perennial slow starter. In 2014, they started their campaign with five consecutive losses and in the next season, they started with four straight losses. But that notwithstanding, they have finished in the top-four in these seasons. But this doesn’t work every time. To steer clear of this, Mumbai needs to start well and gain the momentum from the outset. 

Despite Lasith Malinga being their pace spearhead for the last few seasons, he is fighting a long battle with the injuries. Although Mumbai haveMitchell Johnson, who can bowl in tandem with McClenaghan, they will certainly miss the Malinga X-factor, if he doesn’t play. 

Ideal Playing XI

Rohit Sharma (capt), Parthiv Patel (wk), Jos Buttler, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga.

Schedule:-

Apr 06, Thu

Rising Pune Supergiant Vs. Mumbai Indians, Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

8:00 PM

Apr 09, Sun

Mumbai Indians Vs. Kolkata Knight Riders, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

8:00 PM

Apr 12, Wed

Mumbai Indians Vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

8:00 PM

Apr 14, Fri

Royal Challengers Bangalore Vs. Mumbai Indians, M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore

4:00 PM

Apr 16, Sun

Mumbai Indians Vs. Gujarat Lions, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

4:00 PM

Apr 20, Thu

Kings XI Punjab Vs. Mumbai Indians, Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore

8:00 PM

Apr 22, Sat

Mumbai Indians Vs. Delhi Daredevils, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

8:00 PM

Apr 24, Mon

Mumbai Indians Vs. Rising Pune Supergiant, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

8:00 PM

Apr 29, Sat

Gujarat Lions Vs. Mumbai Indians, Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot

8:00 PM

May 01, Mon

Mumbai Indians Vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

4:00 PM

May 06, Sat

Delhi Daredevils Vs. Mumbai Indians, Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi

8:00 PM

May 08, Mon

Sunrisers Hyderabad Vs. Mumbai Indians, Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

8:00 PM

May 11, Thu

Mumbai Indians Vs. Kings XI Punjab, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

8:00 PM

May 13, Sat

Kolkata Knight Riders Vs. Mumbai Indians, Eden Gardens, Kolkata

8:00 PM

 

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