Mumbai Indians: What's wrong and what can be set right
Mumbai Indians have managed 5 out of 5, not wins but defeats!
The biggest problem for them has been their squad composition, maybe they lost this IPL in the auction room itself but then this is a retrospective statement. They did manage to bring in Corey Anderson to replace Glen Maxwell, Michael Hussey to replace Dwayne Smith; so it isn’t that they carelessly let people go, it is just that the replacements haven’t clicked.
With the team required to win at least 7/8 games of the remaining 9, qualifying for the play-offs looks quite an uphill task and will be nothing short of impossible. But then Kings XI are on a 8 match winning streak at the moment where as RCB and CSK have each managed a 7 match winning streak in 2011 and 2013 which goes to show that there is still wee bit of hope should the team click.
The question remains as to what the team can do to turn their fortunes??
The batting line-up
Corey Anderson’s form remains the big worry for Mumbai Indians and even in the last game his comfort level against Dale Steyn was worrisome. Though he can easily turn everything around with one big knock,the bigger problem with him seems to be the lack of experience and that is not something that will be completely corrected over an IPL season.
MI might be better off replacing him with Lendl Simmons at the top who has come in as a replacement for Jalaj Saxena, and with two more West Indians already in the squad he shouldn’t have any issues in getting started with the team. Though let me warn you that even Lendl Simmons isn’t in a great form and his highest score in the last 10 innings that he has played either for WI and T&T is 31.
Micheal Hussey also hasn’t been able to provide the steady starts and was duly replaced by Ben Dunk in the last game and that seems the ideal way going forward. The batting line-up for me would be Ben Dunk and Aditya Tare at the top with Tare having an licence to go big from ball one. Lendl Simmons coming to come in at no. 3 and Rohit Sharma placing himself at his natural position of no. 4; last season while batting at no.4, he managed an average of 38 and a strike rate of around 131.
No. 5 and No. 6 would each be occupied by either Kieron Pollard or Ambati Rayudu. The no. 7 slot could be occupied by any of the three uncapped batsmen in the squad, i.e., Apoorv Wankhade, Sushant Marathe (both of whom have good strike rates in domestic T20s), CM Gautam or they can go in for an extra bowler.
The bowling department
Mumbai Indians have given away 7.55 runs an over in the first five matches which isn’t that bad a figure, but then they have managed to pick up 20 wickets in all. Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha have so far managed to pick only one wicket each and where as Bhajji has at least contained the flow of runs going for 5.5 RPO, Ojha has been going for 8.8 RPO.
They may want offer a chance or two to Shreyas Gopal, the young leggie from Karnataka. The pace battery is also facing some issues with Pollard not bowling much and Anderson leaking 90 runs off his 8 overs in the tournament so far. So despite Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan performing well and having 6 proper bowlers on the team sheet, Mumbai look as if they are a bowler short.
If none of the 3 potential No. 7 batsman mentioned above are worthy of a spot in the team, MI can always go in with 5 full time bowlers by allowing Bumrah, Shreyas Gopal or Pawan Suyal to come in.
With the sort of squad they have where in the batting line up is now dependent on international batsmen coming in, I don’t see the likes of Josh Hazlewood, Krishmar Santokie or Merchant De Lange getting a game this year around.