One more season passes with Mumbai Indians being top contenders for the trophy, for the major part of the tournament at least. They started the season in a manner that put the fear in their oppositions more or less. Malinga was swinging away with his Yorkers and getting wickets left, right and center. Ambati Rayudu showed why he was always regarded to be the next great batsman from Hyderabad after Azhar.
Everything seemed to be going like a dream till they suffered a KKR like collapse. Suddenly everything stopped to go right. The only constant thing that remained was Sachin Tendulkar invariably giving Mumbai a decent start atleast once or twice in say 3 games. So where did it all go wrong?
An uncertain opening combination
Sachin tried out nearly 5-6 different combinations at the top. He tried Davy Jacobs, Blizzard, Suman , Sathish and maybe anyone who could probably be an option. Curiously for a team doing as well as them the uncertainty hurt them big time. Every good team, be it Tests, ODI’s or T20 should have a fixed opening combination. That is the basis of all great teams, the format notwithstanding.
MI sorely missed a spinner for the most part of the tournament. Sure they had India’s most experienced spinner available with them but I guess his impact with the bat was more than his impact with the ball. He stubbornly refused to flight the ball. A classic example can be taken from their last game. In his last over he sent down fast balls that were pitching halfway down rather than flight the ball to draw a false stroke from Gayle. Vettori on the other hand is stubborn and refuses to bowl fast. All spinners successful in this year’s IPL have been those who have given the ball some air- Ashwin, Iqbal Abdullah, Vettori, Shakib Al Hasan, etc.
No fast bowling partner for Slinga
Malinga did his job well averaging two wickets a game. However there was never a scenario that the batsmen faced pressure from both ends at the same time. Franklin was unused in all the matches he played even when Pollard was bowled. Also the Indian fast bowling contingent except for Munaf, was poor. Abu Nechim and Dhawal Kulkarni both were unable to stop the flow of runs. Munaf was preferred to either come or break partnerships or lower the run rate and seldom got the chance to bowl in tandem with Malinga.
Malinga’s sudden fall from grace
Malinga took around 26 wickets in the first 10 games and then 3 wickets in the next 5. His sudden loss in form should have sent alarm bells ringing but curiously even after Shane Watson smashed him to all parts no one ever went to talk to him. Why?
Rohit Sharma – Enuff said
India is notorious for wasting talent and if things continue going this way another name would be added to the list. A supremely talented batsman he consistently forgot – the BASICS. Taking off for a non-existent run, going for unnecessary shots and the works. Rohit Sharma came onto the scene with a bang with people having great expectations. He did play well in a couple of games but the inconsistency does not do any justice to his talent.
Mindless experimentation in the end of the tournament
Mumbai lost games by the truckload at the end of the tournament. It was just like last year when they started with a bang and finished with a whimper.
When you see Sachin come out and complain about pitches you know something is wrong. The Mumbai Indians resorted to whining about pitch conditions after losing a game against Rajasthan and were promptly rebuked by Shane Warne. I was at a loss to understand their tactics and the feeling was shared by more than one person around me. Some came off like promoting Harbhajan up the order and some failed spectacularly-like the Abu Nechim one. However one thing that is a huge positive is that this year Mumbai Indians were happy to try different things and not be stuck to just their plan. This will hold them in good stead in the future.
Mumbai were not able to qualify for the finals but they did provide us with some of the most beautiful memories of IPL 4. But one thing is certain – Mumbai as a team even with their mistakes is still a tough proposition to beat!