Other teams who were expected to struggle, like the Chennai Super Kings, the Delhi Capitals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, have kicked off IPL 2021 in spectacular fashion. With only two wins to show for, Rohit Sharma's side have an uphill task on their hands to turn their season around and make the top two like they did last year.
Here are 3 key reasons why MI have struggled in IPL 2021.
#3 MI have been unable to adapt to the conditions in Chennai
IPL 2021 has all teams playing at neutral venues, because of logistical issues with bio-bubbles and COVID restrictions. While the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Chennai Super Kings have adjusted brilliantly to their new surroundings, MI haven't been able to adapt as successfully.
The two-paced wicket at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai has been completely alien to MI, who are used to playing a majority of their games on batting-friendly pitches. The defending champions don't have great depth in their spin attack, with Krunal Pandya far from effective with the ball on a regular basis in the IPL.
Moreover, apart from Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav, most of MI's middle order has struggled to make runs against the spinners in the middle overs. Things aren't expected to get any easier for MI as they head to the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.
#2 MI have struggled to take wickets in the powerplay
Unlike last season, MI haven't been able to take regular wickets in the powerplay. In the five games so far, they've managed only three wickets in the first six overs.
The first game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore saw them dismiss Washington Sundar and Rajat Patidar within the field restrictions, but they went wicketless in the next two games against the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
MI sent Prithvi Shaw back to the hut in the second over in the game against the Delhi Capitals, but found themselves picking up only one wicket over the course of the succeeding encounter against the Punjab Kings.
Rohit Sharma usually prefers to use Jasprit Bumrah in one-over spells in the middle overs and then at the death, but the ace speedster is playing cricket after a long time and isn't at his best. Trent Boult hasn't got much swing with the new ball, while the spinners have struggled to make an impact.
MI need to find a way to make early inroads if they are to go on a winning run in IPL 2021.
#1 MI's middle order has misfired
MI's famed middle order has won them two titles in the last two IPL seasons. Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya have all contributed when called upon, especially in the previous season in the UAE.
But in IPL 2021, barring a couple of delightful cameos from Suryakumar, the MI middle order has failed to deliver. Kishan has managed only 73 runs at a strike rate of 82.95, while Pollard has 65 runs at 116.07. Hardik has been a massive failure as well with 36 runs at 97.29, and Krunal has 29 runs at 107.4.
The ideal batting positions of these players has come under question. MI need their middle order to come to the party if they are to post sizeable totals and give their bowling attack something to work with.