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Mumbai Indians, a victim of their own tall benchmark

Last updated on 13 Apr 2022 | 07:21 PM
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Mumbai Indians, a victim of their own tall benchmark

On Wednesday, Punjab Kings put a mirror in front of Mumbai, exposing their Auction strategy

It was the 19th over, the camera panned closely towards the Mumbai Indians’ dug out, there was Ishan Kishan, who was inconsolable and then there was Suryakumar Yadav, who did not want to look up. 

This game was pretty much in Mumbai’s favour but yet, like how this season has fared, it slipped fast and furiously away from them. In an eight-team tournament, maybe, the five-time IPL champions might have gotten away with it but here, not a chance. 

“We just have to go back and see what we do as a team," reflected Rohit Sharma after the loss. It wasn't just a loss though, Rohit's side had lost five in a row, only the second time in IPL history. 

Mumbai had a relatively quiet Auction for the 2022 IPL. By relative, they waited till Kishan was up on the big screen to splurge a whole percentage of their purse before waiting on Jofra Archer on day two to snap him for the rest.

The issue is, unlike seasons before, this Mumbai squad has multiple chunks, all at once. 

Ahead of this IPL season, it was always going to be tough for the five-time IPL champions to retain a major portion of their squad. They had all the pieces for T20s success, a left-arm pacer in Trent Boult, a gun-pace across phases in Jasprit Bumrah, a world-class all-rounder in Hardik Pandya, a top-quality spinner in Rahul Chahar.

But in IPL 2022, they have most of those boxes lacking. Prior to this season, Mumbai always possessed an unreal depth, both with the bat and the ball. If not Boult, it was Bumrah and if not the two, then there was Chahar. If not the three, there was Krunal Pandya. If not him as well, then Hardik Pandya. In short, they had the best of all worlds.

Mumbai have the wealth of resources, the ones that can win matches: the experience on the bench. They have a pipeline of scouting system that is considered as one of the best in the country. A system that in the past has seen the rise of Kishan, Bumrah, Pandya(s), and Chahar amongst the others.

Building a squad from almost scratch was always going to be a big issue for the Rohit Sharma-led side. And here they are, suffering from their own image of being a side with continued excellence.


The contest on Wednesday was a fitting one, it was a definite reflection of what Mumbai lacked, and everything Punjab possessed. It wasn’t because it was a one-sided contest but rather because it was a contest that the Mumbai Indians of the 2019, 20 and even 21, would have won, given their quality. 

A badly constructed squad? That’s right out there for people to see. In the second innings, Mumbai were cruising, on the back of some wild power-hitting from the youngster, Dewald Brevis, some thought-provoking shots from Suryakumar but the margin kept increasing as the batters kept decreasing. 

It was a true reflection of what Mumbai had picked at the Auction, their batting stops where most of the other teams still have a proven willow or two. Their bowling stops where other teams would get a few more wickets. It was almost like, Mumbai didn’t have the chip to match the firepower of the other teams.

Their batting stopped at No.6, their bowling with just five options and a top five, who can’t chip in with the ball. The luxuries of the Pandya brothers were there no more, the bowling quality of Boult in the powerplay was yet again missing, as Punjab’s opening batters had capitalized. And the lack of a second spinner to support Murugan Ashwin, was evidently visible. 

But unlike other games, this game is perhaps closest to the peak Mumbai we have seen with the bat, the gravity of the situation did not affect the 18-year-old Brevis. He launched an assault against one of the best leg-spinners in the country, Chahar, with relative ease. Well, Brevis did that and also managed to put the leg-spinner out of the attack, at least till the time he was batting.

The asking rate did not really put a whole lot of pressure on a 19-year-old Tilak Varma, who continued to grow from stature to stature with plenty of confidence. Given that they lost two wickets off just plain miscommunication, this game would give Mumbai a lot of faith, but only with the bat. The batters had picked up from their last game’s slack but the bowling will continue to affect them. 


Mumbai’s bowling this season has been poor. If I have to throw the numbers, they have the worst economy rate amongst the ten teams and have picked up just 27 wickets in five games, averaging 32.7. 

To give a perspective, in IPL 2021, they had the third-best economy rate with the ball, and had snapped up 82 wickets, averaging 25.9. Their inability to snarl the big wickets has cost them across all the five encounters. In the middle-overs, Mumbai concede boundaries every 5.1 deliveries, only ahead of Punjab Kings. 

And at the death, they concede runs at 14.2 RPO, meaning that Mumbai are no more a team made of great bowlers, in comparison to their yesteryears. There is only so much that Bumrah could do, only so much wizardry Murugan Ashwin can do, if the support is lacklustre. 

The 2022 batch of Mumbai are the Mumbai side of the yesteryears minus the big names. Their performance has been lacklustre, purely because they have not got the tools. Even after four back-to-back losses, the 2020 IPL Champions are yet to figure out their best playing XI, are yet to figure out their best bowling unit. 

As we have witnessed, game after game, it is the good bowlers who win the games for the franchises, in a format that is going to be long dominated by the batters.

“We've been not playing good cricket for a while and that's why we've been on the losing side, simple as that,” Rohit added.  

The truth is Mumbai have not been playing good cricket. But the real truth is, there is only so much quality that this side possesses, which makes it gut-wrenching, for a team that was heralded as the benchmark of a T20 franchise.

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