The five-time champions were dominating the Indian Premier League from 2013 to the 2020 season, and during that period, their worst outing was at the fifth position on the points table. They had a season to forget in 2022, mainly due to not getting their combinations right and moving away from their success theory.
At the time of writing this, Mumbai are ninth on the points table, with one win and two losses. We, at Cricket.com, have tried to break down what the success theory was from 2013-2020, what went wrong in 2022, and what they should do in 2023 to have success.
All of MI's success came when they had a foreign opener, a foreign finisher, and two foreign seamers.
The stats from the above table clearly indicate that a foreign opener yielded better results. The average runs in the powerplay might be similar in numbers, but opening with a foreigner provided them with a solid base in terms of runs per dismissal, balls per dismissal, and average wickets in the powerplay.
The above table illustrates the impact that a foreign opener provides.
They had a foreign finisher to bank on, and with the support of middle-order batters, they always had a knack for winning the match outta nowhere.
MI is one of the teams that have two foreign pacers who can strike up front for early breakthroughs and choke the opposition batters at death overs.
The seasons they missed the playoffs were:
2016: Opened with Rohit Sharma and Parthiv Patel for most of the matches. Rohit didn’t receive support from Parthiv (average: 17.7)
2018: Pollard had a poor season, and the second foreign pacer Mustafizur Rahman couldn’t strike up front (one wicket). They didn’t have two tearaway quicks like they had in previous seasons.
2021: Quinton de Kock couldn’t repeat his previous heroics, where he went on to score back-to-back 500+ runs in a season. Trent Boult couldn’t repeat his magic with the new ball, and Coulter-Nile (2 wickets) didn’t strike enough up front. Yet they ended fifth because of the net run-rate.
2022: Completely went away from their winning combination. Ishan Kishan and Rohit Sharma couldn’t provide a good start. Pollard had a poor season, and Tim David wasn’t given a long run at the start of the tournament. Tymal Mills, Riley Meredith, and Daniel Sams operated as the foreign pacers, and none of them had a track record of striking in the powerplay.
Do not fix what’s not broken.
How did Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishan Kishan operate?
Starting with Suryakumar Yadav, he scored 60% of his total runs when he batted No.3, and was an instrumental figure when MI won the back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020. When the right-hander batted at No.3 on average, he used to come in the fourth over, and his potential was used till the rest of the innings.
He went on to score 239 runs from 6 innings when he batted at No.4 and No.5, and on average, used to come in the 8th over while batting at No.4 and No.5. Imagine what he would’ve done if he had batted earlier and longer.
Only twice before 2022 did Bumrah’s average overs in the post-powerplay phase go below the 2.5 mark. Those seasons were
2013: He played just two matches and the sample size is very small.
2014: He’s still a new member of the team, and they couldn’t define a role for him.
From 2015 until 2021, in the majority of the matches, he bowled one over in the powerplay and the remaining overs in the second half of the innings. With this, he was able to provide important breakthroughs through the course of the game.
2022: As none of the other pacers were striking during the powerplay, he was forced to bowl more during the powerplay, which completely broke their pattern.
From the above table, it's clear that Ishan Kishan is a more dependable commodity in the middle than at the top, and he can fill the gaps left by the Pandya brothers, with Tilak Varma playing at No.5.
Rohit Sharma’s highest average from the 2017 IPL was 29.3, but that’s not spoken about much because of the team’s success. But whenever he plays more than 15 balls when opening (since 2019), he scores 42 runs per innings with a strike rate of 134.4.
How should they set up the playing XI for the 2023 season?
If they want to open with Kishan, he should be given the freedom to hit from ball 1 and provide a start similar to what Quinton de Kock did. Opening with Brevis or Green would be an ideal option. Brevis as an opener has an average of 32 with a 145.8 SR. Green doesn’t have much T20 experience, but he has opened seven times, with a 187.7 SR.
Play Suryakumar Yadav at No.3 no matter what.
If Kishan opens, play Green at No.4, followed by Tilak and David.
Jasprit Bumrah's absence will be felt, with added responsibility on Jofra Archer’s shoulders to play his role. His role should be opening with the new ball and operating mostly in the late middle (10-12) and death overs.
Jason Behrendorff can operate well in the powerplay, looking for an early breakthrough, having already picked up a wicket.
With the addition of the impact player rule, there is room for advantage to play an extra batter/bowler depending on the match situation. This is how their lineup would look if they went back to their winning combination of playing a foreign opener, a foreign finisher, and two foreign pacers.
Cameron Green / Dewald Brevis
Tim David / Tristan Stubbs
Piyush Chawla/ Kumar Kartikeya
Arshad Khan / Indian Pacer
Jofra Archer / Riley Meredith
Jason Behrendorff / Duan Jansen
Stick on with the winning combination and “Duniya hila denge hum”.
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