With 5 losses in 7 games at the halfway stage, it may be just a little too late for the Mumbai Indians to make it to the playoffs. But this is T20 cricket, where things can change with the blink of an eye. Barring the top two teams, almost every other franchise stands a chance of entering the Final Four. Of course, it all depends on various permutations and combinations and our best friend, the Net Run Rate.
For MI, it has been an action replay of 2014 so far. It is unlikely that they will come back the way they did last year, after losing five in a row. But it’s not over till it’s over. On Saturday, Mumbai Indians won their second game of the Indian T20 League, their first win at home. There is still hope for MI fans, after all. But the team seems to have lost their mojo, and are in a dire need of resurrection. With their next game scheduled directly for May 1st against the Rajasthan Royals, MI have plenty of time at their disposal. Here are 5 things they can do differently to get their winning momentum back:
1. Open with Lendl Simmons and Rohit Sharma:
Last year, late entrant Lendl Simmons wrecked havoc with the bat and changed Mumbai’s fortunes for good, alongside Michael Hussey. But with Hussey gone, the onus now lies on Simmons, who has been rather inconsistent. They say your best batsmen should bat in the Top 3. And for Mumbai, there’s no better bet than Rohit. Experts have been repeatedly urging the MI skipper to open and they aren’t wrong. Rohit’s tremendous hitting will set the much needed foundation for Mumbai in the Powerplay overs. It will also put lesser pressure on a fragile middle order.
2. Proactive and attacking field:
With a fielding coach like Jonty Rhodes, there’s no room for excuse. MI look deflated in the field, letting the opposition score runs that could have been easily saved. This then becomes the margin of their defeat while chasing. When two of your pacers are steaming in from both ends, a slip or two is bound to create pressure on opposition. Keep the attack going even when your spinners are on. Defensive bowling only hurts. Add to that the dropped catches and missed run-outs, and it’s bound to affect the overall score.
3. Win the toss and bat first:
No matter how much you trust your batsmen, a chase is always going to be difficult, especially with the soaring required run rate. The Pollards and the Rohits might be big hitters, but the pressure of a tall chase can get the better of them at any point. So, bat freely, put the runs on the board if you happen to win the toss and then back your bowlers to defend it. Remember, a difference of even 1 run can give you the win you need!
4. Right use of bowlers:
You can experiment with your bowling only when you’re absolutely sure that your batsmen won’t mess it up. With an unreliable batting line-up, Mumbai cannot afford to get it wrong with their bowlers. In Mitchell McClenaghan and Lasith Malinga, they’ve got two fast bowlers who share 8 overs between them. Vinay Kumar has been disciplined so far, and he needs to bowl his 4 overs too. Both Harbhajan Singh and J Suchith have been bowling well. Mumbai have made the mistake of holding back their best bowler on the day, and throwing the ball to more than one part-timer. Now, why would you do that?
5. Winning attitude:
When we look at the likes of CSK and RR cruising to successive victories, we know how positive their approach towards the game is. Teams with a winning attitude will always go a long way in a tournament as dynamic as the Indian T20 League. Right from the onset, Mumbai Indians have exuded a body language that has defeat written all over it. It is time to chin up and play like champions. Just like the way they stormed into the playoffs last season at the very last moment.
Gheun tak, Mumbai!