Mumbai fans are not accustomed to seeing their beloved team win six out of their first eight matches. When Mumbai Indians lost their first match of the season to Rising Pune SuperGiant, there were no eyebrows raised.
Much like their captain, Mumbai Indians are known to be notoriously shaky starters. The time-tested Mumbai Indians template was beginning to take shape again. Then, the script changed.
Mumbai Indians equaled their best IPL winning streak by winning their next six matches on the bounce. They ran into Rising Pune SuperGiant again, only to lose a close game in the final over, thereby making Pune the only team to beat Mumbai this season. Despite the defeat, Mumbai are currently favourites to finish in the top two. Even more surprising has been the fact that Mumbai Indians are the team that has made the least number of team changes.
Before the season started, Mahela Jayawardene was appointed as the coach of the Mumbai Indians team. Tactically, Mahela Jayawardene had been considered to one of the
shrewdest captains from Asia. Based on the results he has achieved so far, Mahela deserves a pat on his back. Rohit Sharma and Mahela seem to not only share lazy elegance
on the field but also a decent chemistry off the field.
No Opening Woes anymore:
Ever since 2009, one other constant issue plaguing Mumbai was their opening partnership. Not even the ill-fated ‘Pondulkar’ could solve that issue. They have always had only one bankable opener while the other opening position was often a game of musical chairs. At the start of the season, Rohit, Parthiv and Rayudu were expected to be the team’s top 3. Not many bowlers would have been worried had Mumbai Indians gone ahead with that strategy. When Buttler strode out to open with Parthiv, it marked a refreshing change in their attitude. Mumbai have played with the same pair throughout this season, which in itself may be some sort of a record. Buttler has repaid some of the faith by getting off to some rollicking starts. Parthiv has done his job well by making use of the Powerplays in the first six overs. It will be interesting to see how Mumbai Indians react when Jos Buttler goes on national duty.
The Rise of the Indians:
For a team to embark on a winning streak, it needs everyone to chip in. Over the last few years, Mumbai Indians have largely ridden on outstanding individual performances from Rohit or Malinga. This has not been the case this season. Nitish Rana and the Pandya brothers have ensured that there is enough depth in the team to mount a comeback from any stage. Mumbai’s recovery from 7-4 against RCB stands testament to their resilience.
Nitish Rana has been the surprise package. His efforts have been complemented by the performances of both the Pandya brothers and Pollard. While Krunal has shined with the ball, Hardik Pandya has set the world on fire with his heroics with the bat.
Mumbai stitched together five of the six wins without a meaningful contribution from their talismanic skipper, Rohit Sharma. Rohit Sharma made a welcome return to form, smashing a fifty against Pune. Though the innings ended in vain, he managed to negate the threat of Imran Tahir, which must do him a world of good. An in-form Rohit adds another dimension to the team. But his woes with the umpires continue.
The fact that two Mitches, Bumrah and Harbhajan defended a modest total on a flat Wankhede pitch against Delhi Daredevils tells us everything we need to know about their bowling attack. The fielding has been equally good which has made the Mumbai bowling attack one of the strongest line-ups in the league. The Mitches have set the tone very well which has enabled Bumrah to tighten the screws at the end. They even managed to keep AB de Villiers quiet when they faced Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The pace battery has been well-supported by their captain and fielders.
With teams working Rana out, Mumbai may be forced to bring in Rayudu to add stability to the batting order. Delhi made definite inroads while bowling but they were unable to get the job done. The in-form Rana is masking quite a few issues with their line-up and soon Mumbai may end up having quite a task at hand. With Mumbai Indians set to lose the services of some of the players to national duty, Mumbai Indians can afford to experiment with their batting order by bringing in Simmons and moving Rohit up the order.
Tips for the other teams:
If one of your main overseas player is not doing well, ask Sanjay Manjrekar to criticize him and wait for one of his friends to misinterpret, the results will follow.