Rajanish Kakade/Associated Press
Played 5, Won 0, Lost 5
There has been much talk during this, Mumbai Indians' worst-ever losing streak, of the players the franchise has let go in the past, and indeed the players they let go at this year’s auction; Dwayne Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Yuzvendra Chahal are just three of a number of individuals who have kicked on to bigger and better things since their release from the Ambani-owned franchise. However, to focus on Mumbai’s terrible auction methods and retention faux pas would be missing the point.
Mumbai still retained five very competent players at this year’s auction—Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Lasith Malinga—players who make up the spine of the side and players around whom they should at least be able to build some kind of strategy and formulate a team who could compete.
Heck, they won the IPL with those five players at the core last year!
Yet despite the preservation of their side they are a team totally lacking in any kind of cohesive strategy, and yet again, as always seems to be the case with Mumbai, they have no idea what their best batting order is.
Admittedly, the signing of Mike Hussey as a replacement for the grossly undervalued Dwayne Smith has backfired catastrophically, while big-money signing Corey Anderson is yet to rediscover his form from earlier this year that saw him become so sought after. But Mumbai should really at the very least be competing, and in only one of their five matches have they even had an outside chance of winning.
The struggles of the opening pair can be traced back as the root of Mumbai’s woes. With Rohit (who has historically batted at four), Pollard and now Anderson, Mumbai are very much a team reliant on a platform from which to launch. This year, without Sachin Tendulkar and Smith, the opening pair simply haven’t been delivering the starts the lower-order require.
For Mumbai to even stand a chance of qualifying for the play-off stage they are going to have to win at the very, very least seven of their remaining nine matches and more likely eight or perhaps even nine.
The move to pick Ben Dunk against the Sunrisers was a good one. Dunk had an awesome Big Bash and can’t do any worse than Mike Hussey at the top of the order.
Rohit has historically batted at four for MI, but the additional (potential) firepower of Anderson in the middle-order and the woes of the openers demand Rohit now opens too. Pollard’s superb 78 against SRH showed the folly of holding him back too late; he must come in at four. While Rayudu’s versatility is valuable—he can float around the middle-order depending on the situation—I’d be keen to keep Pollard and Anderson apart until at least the final five overs of the innings.
Bowling-wise those four pick themselves, but a word of warning for the form of Ojha, who looks well below his best, and a word of sympathy too for Krishmar Santokie, who is a superb bowler missing out on selection. But bowling is the least of Mumbai’s problems right now.
1) Rohit Sharma 2) Ben Dunk 3) Aditya Tare 4) Kieron Pollard 5) Ambati Rayudu 6) Corey Anderson 7) CM Gautam 8) Harbhajan Singh 9) Zaheer Khan 10) Pragyan Ojha 11) Lasith Malinga
Their retentions preserved the spine of their team and they possess some of the world’s best T20 players.
Simply awful—there is almost no sense of method or cohesion to anything they’ve done.
Not one of their batsmen look in form; but at least Harbhajan and the ever-reliable Malinga do.