BENGALURU: Mumbai Indians are traditional slow starters in the Indian Premier League but their poor show in 2022 has left everyone shocked. The five-time champions lost their first eight matches, the first team to achieve this unwarranted record.
Though they have won their last two matches their chances of qualifying for the Playoffs are almost zilch. Mumbai and Chennai Super Kings are the two most successful and consistent teams in the history of the IPL. Even when they have not won the championship, their overall performance was satisfactory.
What is happening to Mumbai in this season is an aberration; something that Chennai also copped in 2020. In 2020, Chennai had lost 8 out of their first 11 matches and crashed out of the tournament. Though they won their last three matches, they still couldn’t make it to the Playoffs. Though the reasons for the debacle of Chennai and Mumbai are extremely different.
Let’s first look at Mumbai. This time Mumbai is devoid of players who were instrumental in their success in the last few years. Hardik and Krunal Pandya were picked up by other franchises in the mega auction, while their star pick this season Jofra Archer got injured before the tournament and became unavailable.
To compound their woes, their captain Rohit Sharma is going through a rough phase. Barring a few flashes of brilliance, Rohit hasn’t been able to conjure up a big innings. As a result, Mumbai have rarely got a roaring start. The lack of a quality all-rounder in absence of Pandya brothers, who can smash quick runs during the death overs, is also haunting Mumbai.
Most importantly, their bowling is heavily dependent on Jasprit Bumrah and on a day when he’s not in his element, there is no one to do the heavy lifting.
In 2020, before the tournament started, 13 members of the Chennai contingent, including two players Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad, contracted COVID-19. As a result, the atmosphere in the team wasn’t really pleasant. Moreover, they didn’t get ample time to practise before the tournament and that reflected in their performances.
Additionally, two experienced players – Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina – pulled out of the tournament at the last moment left a huge void. During the tournament, their in-form batsman Ambati Rayudu got injured and that disturbed the balance of the team. Shane Watson and Murali Vijay – their openers – failed to come good. The captain MS Dhoni also looked off-colour throughout the tournament.
“CSK is looking like an ageing boxer in the ring against younger fighters who are throwing more punches than he can handle,” tweeted Harsha Bhogle.
Other analysts predicted doom for Chennai and called it “the end of an era”. However, Chennai proved naysayers wrong by bouncing back and winning the tournament in 2021.
Mumbai can learn from Chennai’s travails in 2020 and also take heart from their comeback in the next season. Even the greatest of teams have endured brief dry spells and occasional blips but they don’t define their legacy.
Both Mumbai and Chennai have been great teams and entertained millions of fans across the globe. The hope persists that Mumbai will go to the drawing board, iron out wrinkles and make a resounding come back next season.
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