Top 5 Things Mumbai Indians Must Do to Turn Things Around
Last year's Indian Premier League champions, Mumbai Indians, have had something of a stuttering start to IPL 7. The big-spending, star-studded franchise have recorded back-to-back defeats in their opening games of the 2014 season and have really struggled with the bat.
The IPL holders were only able to post 122 against KKR and an even more worrying 115/9 against RCB. Ambati Rayudu is the only Mumbai batsman to come out of the opening fixtures with any kind of credit after scores of 48 and 35.
So what is going wrong with the Mumbai batting? And what must they do to put it right? Here is a look at five things Mumbai must do to get back to winning ways.
Get Hussey Amongst the Runs
Mike Hussey finding form could be the turning point in Mumbai's season. The left-handed opener has not played competitive cricket since the Big Bash in February and has struggled in his first two innings in Mumbai colours.
The 38-year-old Australian has made 19 runs in two innings so far and will take time to find the form that led him to the orange cap with Chennai in 2013.
Hussey hitting form will give Mumbai an anchor to their batting innings, allowing the power-hitters of Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson the freedom to play.
Move Rohit Sharma to No. 3
Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma has come into the IPL season after a campaign opening the batting in T20 cricket for his country.
However, he has dropped himself down the order in IPL 7, coming in at No. 4 behind Ambati Rayudu. This doesn't leave Sharma enough time to play himself in and settle into his free-flowing game.
Sharma was sixth in the run-scoring reckoning last year, making 538 runs at an average of 38.42. Mumbai will need him to lead by example and recreate this kind of form if they are to turn their season around. After averaging 40 in the ICC World T20 at a strike-rate of 123, you have to believe that kind of form is not far away.
Get All-Rounders Firing on All Cylinders
Mumbai rely heavily on their middle order all-rounders to blast them to match-winning totals. However, the two power players in question are returning from injuries; Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson.
As a result neither have played much T20 cricket and will take time to get back to their big-hitting best. Their return to action has not been helped by Mumbai's top-order troubles, heaping pressure onto the overseas pair.
If Mumbai's two all-rounders can hit form then they will be a fearsome side once again.
Give Some Youngsters a Chance
If the big money men are not delivering then Mumbai should not be afraid to give some of their youngsters a chance on the big stage.
Last year's champions have batsman Apoorv Wankhade, keeper-batsman Sushant Marathe and all-rounder Jalaj Saxena in their ranks as well as the more experienced C.M. Gautam.
Saxena in particular would be a useful option if Anderson continues to struggle, allowing John Wright to bolster his bowling attack. Mumbai have top quality fast bowlers in Krishmar Santokie, Marchant De Lange and Josh Hazlewood waiting in the wings and could give Mumbai's struggling batsmen a smaller total to chase.
Ben Dunk, the Big Bash top run-scorer is an alternative option were Mumbai to free up an overseas space.
Back Their Bowlers
Mumbai have one of the best bowling attacks in the IPL on paper, spearheaded by the best T20 bowler in the world; Lasith Malinga.
Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan are two of the most experienced Indian bowlers in the competition and are a reliable force in keeping the runs down. With Pragyan Ojha among their attack as well, Mumbai have a pair of spinners who can tie teams down.
Backing their ability with the ball will give the struggling Mumbai batsmen the best chance of scoring a match-winning total. A series of strong bowling performances will also help to re-instil some confidence in the Mumbai batting order, knowing that their efforts will be backed up in the field.