IPL 2014 - Mumbai Indians: Too little too late to harbour any hopes of making it to the playoffs
Mumbai Indians’ (MI) season was effectively over when they crashed to 5 straight defeats in the UAE leg of this IPL season. The transformation in form and fortune of the Ambani-owned franchise has been conspicuous in the 7 games that they have played back home in India, but it’s largely about saving the pride and finishing as high as 5th – that would be a nice way to cap off the season. Why do I say that? A win each for the Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals in their remaining two games will, for sure end MI’s very minute chance of sneaking in as the 4th team to make it to this year’s IPL playoffs.
Hopes and prayers aside, it has been clinical on the part of the defending IPL champions to play the way they have in the 7 games post the UAE leg. Rohit and co. have looked assured, and much more confident of their abilities.
In the UAE leg, you always got the feeling that they didn’t enjoy their cricket, and were due for a mistake or two just when you thought it was going to be MI’s day. The game against Sunrisers on the 30th of April is a testament to the fact that Mumbai Indians couldn’t bring their A-game to the fore, and, that in many ways led to the downfall in coming second best in those nip and tuck games.
Just recapping how that game against Sunrisers panned out: Sunrisers had made more than a competitive score of 172 – thanks largely to David Warner’s ability to clear the boundary at will. The diminutive southpaw from New South Wales took to Ojha from the outset and Mumbai Indians never found a way past Warner, who ended up with 65(51), an innings punctuated with 4 colossal sixes. Lokesh Rahul, the Karnataka opener, played the ideal foil to David Warner and quietly helped himself to 46(40). 172 was a stiff task, and there was due scepticism that MI might come up short again.
The Mumbai Indians’ innings got off to a peculiar start, and even before the powerplay had ended, Rohit Sharma, Ben Dunk and Corey Anderson were back in the sheds with a meager 32 on the board. But, a certain Ambati Rayudu and the marauding West Indian in Kieron Pollard resisted further fall of wickets at first and when the big hits had to come, Pollard was pretty adept at finding the boundaries, with Rayudu not far behind.
The partnership flourished, and gave Mumbai Indians a ray of hope that they could pull off their 1st win of the season. Rayudu fell in the 16th over of the innings after making a decent 35, and it was all down to Pollard to conjure up another innings of sheer brilliance. However, it wasn’t to be this time. Mumbai Indians required just 26 of the last 14 balls, but Harbhajan, who was at the crease with Pollard, couldn’t pass over the strike to the big man and neither could he manufacture some lusty blows of his own. In many ways, Harbhajan’s 1(5) broke the the rhythm of Pollard, who was stroking it crisply up until then, and Harbhajan’s inability to hit boundaries pushed the asking rate beyond their reach. In the end, even someone with the hitting ability of Pollard couldn’t come up with the needful and MI finished at 157/7.
The first 3 games of the season against the Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Chennai Super Kings were forgettable ones, and MI were comfortably outplayed and outclassed. But, the next two games of the UAE leg against the Delhi Daredevils and the Sunrisers were improved performances, which needed to show for something, but didn’t. Mind you, you get only 2 points for a win, but had the Mumbai Indians been able to pull off a win against the Sunrisers then, they could have found themselves at 12 points now and, if they can manage to win their remaining 2 games, the points tally would have come up to 16, which 9 out of 10 times guarantees you a spot in the playoffs.
Calculations apart, if the defending IPL champions can win their remaining games of the season and finish as high as possible, I, like any other Mumbai Indians’ fan out there will be happy and delighted with the recovery to cap off the season with 7 victories in 9 games after crashing to 5 straight defeats.
See you next season, supporters of other IPL franchises. To all my valuable readers, a huge thank you for reading my previews and opinions on the Mumbai Indians’ season that hasn’t quite been up to the standard, but finishing with 14 points will be no meager feat.