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IPL 2014 - Eliminator: Mumbai Indians got their team combination totally wrong

Opting to go in with just 5 bowlers cost Mumbai the match

Should I be happy that the IPL franchise I support and adore, Mumbai Indians (MI) went on and made it to the playoffs from a position of real dis-array? Or, should I say, “It was bonkers on the part of the defending IPL champions to throw it away after doing so well to get into the last 4”?

Fact of the matter is that it’s always tough to come this far, put up an obnoxious performance akin to last night, and bow out of the tournament with great regret. Mind you, I am in no way questioning the integrity or attitude of the Mumbai Indians, who gave it their all and came second-best on the night, but, where did things started going wrong? 

The way I see it, things did not start going wrong abruptly, albeit it seemed that way when MI’s wickets fell like nine pins post the 15th over of their innings. But, things were not meant to go right, from the moment the Mumbai Indians’ think-tank and Rohit Sharma alike opted to go in with just 4 specialist bowlers. Praveen Kumar replaced Shreyas Gopal, who had a good 3 games before going for aplenty in the game against the Rajasthan Royals.

Corey Anderson was brought into the playing XI for the game against the Rajasthan Royals owing to the fact that it was batting that needed strengthening, and in case of chasing a big total within the stipulated overs, Corey’s big-hitting credentials could come in handy, which it did – and in the end proved to be a masterstroke.

Yesterday’s game against the Chennai Super Kings did not present the Mumbai Indians with any set equation or something of that kind. They just needed to be professional about it. Most importantly, batting line-ups of both the sides were chock-a-block with strokemakers, and the team that bowled well was always going to be victorious on the night. From that point of view, it was your bowling that needed a fresh blueprint along with some diplomatic balancing act in choosing the playing XI for last night’s game.

I simply couldn’t comprehend the logic behind going in with 6 specialist batsmen yet again, and that ‘howler’ cost the Mumbai Indians a chance of going further in the tournament. Even if MI had made 200 batting first, I am sceptical whether they would have managed to defend it, with the bowlers they had in the playing XI.

Praveen Kumar bowled 3 very good overs up-front, Bumrah had a forgettable day at the office – first of this IPL season for him, Harbhajan brought all of his experience into play, but was handicapped without getting good support at the other end. Pragyan Ojha did dismantle Brendon McCullum with a nicely flighted delivery, but he has averaged well over 200 this season. Corey Anderson was helpless. He’s a decent operator, but asking him to open the bowling is just unacceptable.

Personally, with Pollard not in the best of nicks, I’d have asked him to rest on the night and injected Marchant De Lange, who, I think might have relished the conditions on offer.

Though Mumbai Indians lost their way mid-innnings, they were out of the competition even before a ball was bowled, owing to their poor team selection.

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