Three blanking losses in the last five games, Mumbai Indians indeed hit the brakes with history repeating itself with a slow and dreaded start to the second half of the tournament. “We need to find ways to bounce back from whatever situations we are in,” uttered five-time IPL winning skipper Rohit Sharma after the loss against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
It wasn’t a hopeless situation for Mumbai but the loss against RCB was staggering in its own ways, after which they now find themselves seventh on the points table. One pretty common theme that has surrounded Mumbai’s three losses: their batsmen’s inability to carry on. Unlike what the successful teams have done, KKR, CSK or even RCB, Mumbai have had a terrific start and then failed to capitalize on that. And their fate lingers on that.
In any other season, it would have been a fairly straightforward clash for Mumbai against Punjab but the situation they find themselves in, they need to dig deeper than they have required to in the past few seasons. Punjab, on the other hand, first buried themselves down the grave before digging themselves out of it two days later. So, where exactly will this fixture get its decisive moments from?
Suryakumar Yadav’s declining form
Last year’s hot property, this year’s disgruntled action figure for Mumbai Indians, Suryakumar Yadav’s sudden dip in form has cost the men in Blue and Gold. In the 2020 edition, only twice was the right-hander dismissed for a single figure score, where his strike-rate was still at 117.86. Four times this season, Suryakumar has been a starkly contrasting figure for Mumbai. Six of his dismissals has come in the first ten deliveries that he has faced, scoring just 96 runs off 85 deliveries.
Five out of the six times that the right-hander has been dismissed for a single-digit score since 2020, the franchise has lost, indicating how important a piece he is to the Mumbai Indians’ puzzle. However, what would be exasperating the franchise is his contribution to the team this season. Out of the 1522 runs that Mumbai have amassed this season, the right-hander has scored 189, contributing to just 12.4% of the runs.
His last three scores read 8, 5 and 3. With the rest of the middle and lower-order on a dwindling return, Mumbai Indians’ hopes of qualification rests on the shoulders of the talented batsman.
Over-reliance on the openers
Two teams with two great opening pair – Mumbai and Punjab have scored bulk of their runs up at the top of the batting order. While KL Rahul-Mayank Agarwal (395 runs) has swayed the bowlers to their tunes, Quinton de Kock-Rohit Sharma (336 runs) have destroyed several bowling units. The Punjab duo have averaged 49.4 runs at the top of the order, striking it at 136.7, with their best being 122 having put three 50+ scores.
On the other hand, de Kock-Rohit barring three innings have always crossed the 49-run mark in the competition as a pair, with four 50+ scores. Mumbai have lost the plot four times in the middle-overs (7-15), which have all resulted in a loss for the franchise. 54/5 against RCB, 50/3 against KKR, 56/3 against CSK and 46/5 against DC shows their weakness this season.
Since IPL 2020, PBKS have lost 6 out of 8 matches when KL Rahul has got dismissed below 25 runs. When KL Rahul has scored 75+ runs, PBKS have a 100%-win record in this time period. There is no bigger indicator than this to suggest Punjab’s reliance on the opening pair, especially Rahul. With Mumbai being Rahul’s favourite opponent, it presents Punjab with a rare opportunity to seize the deal and score the runs early on when the conditions allow.
Ravi Bishnoi’s emergence alongside Arshdeep Singh are two of the biggest stories from Punjab’s last adventure in the Middle East. While Bishnoi was always expected to grow in stature under the tutelage of Punjab’s head coach Anil Kumble, the result was beyond any expectations. In his debut season, the leggie picked up 12 wickets, averaging 31.3, conceding at just 7.4 RPO, playing all the 14 games.
However, come to his second season, the franchise shocked the world by dropping the leg-spinner, out of the blue. Without the 21-year-old, Punjab’s spin unit has only picked up three wickets, at 91.7 and an economy rate of 8.6. In his presence though, PBKS’ spin unit has picked up 13 wickets, at 21.1, conceding just 6.5 RPO.
Not just that, the leggie also has the second-best average for a spinner in this year’s competition, at 17.6 and the fourth-best economy rate (6.2) amongst spinners. 69% of his deliveries this season has been googlies, which has fetched him five wickets, a wicket every 12.2 deliveries, showing a much-improved version of the variation. With seven wickets already in the competition, Bishnoi’s effect in the Punjab jersey is quite visible.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Adam Milne, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult
Punjab Kings: KL Rahul (c and wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Harpreet Brar, Ravi Bisnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Nathan Ellis