Mumbai Indians (MI) are traditionally known as slow starters in the Indian Premier League (IPL). However, even the most optimistic MI supporter will be worried about the manner in which the franchise have begun their campaign this season. After four matches, they are languishing at the bottom of the points table, having failed to win a single game. After going down to the Delhi Capitals (DC) by four wickets from a winning position, they got thumped by the Rajasthan Royals (RR) by 23 runs, by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by five wickets, and by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by seven wickets. So, what exactly is going wrong for Mumbai this season? And did they lose the plot even before the tournament got underway?
Where are the all-rounders?
There are many question marks over MI’s strategy at the IPL 2022 mega auction. One of the major ones being the lack of all-rounders that were picked on the bidding table. If we look back at MI’s success in the T20 league over the years, we will find that cricketers with multiple skills had a massive role to play. In fact, the trio of Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, and Krunal Pandya won Mumbai a number of games, particularly with the ball. The Pandya brothers were good with the ball as well, while Pollard could also chip in. Add to that, all three were very good fielders.
In the current MI squad though, there is only Pollard. Hardik is now leading the Gujarat Titans (GT), while Krunal has moved to the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG). And Mumbai are definitely missing the all-round strength of the Pandya brothers. They have failed to secure adequate replacements in the department and hence are struggling when it comes to finishing the innings. On his own, Pollard is finding it too difficult to pull it off.
The Boult jolt
One of the most surprising moves Mumbai made ahead of the auction was to release Trent Boult and then not buy him back at the mega auction. As a result, the dynamic opening bowling pair of Jasprit Bumrah and Boult was separated. To make matters worse, Mumbai did not pick a worthy replacement for the Kiwi left-arm seamer at the auction. They went for the likes of Daniel Sams, Basil Thampi and Jaydev Unadkat. Mumbai have thus struggled in the bowling department as Bumrah has pretty much been a one-man show for them.
Too much money spent on one player?
No doubt, MI did a good job by buying back Ishan Kishan. But the big question is, did they spend too much on one player, and thereby hurt the balance of the squad. Remember Ishan was the most expensive buy at the auction this year, and Mumbai did not really pick any other big names. They spent Rs 8.25 crore on all-rounder Tim David, but he too was dropped from the playing XI after a couple of games. Kishan will be expected to do well and already has two fifties to his credit. But, whether MI erred by spending so lavishly on him is something we will know very soon.
Missed target with Archer?
The ploy to spend Rs 8 crore on England fast bowler Jofra Archer is also being questioned. It was clear at the time of the auction that the injury-prone pacer was not going to be available for this season. And considering his fitness woes, there is no guarantee he will be available next year as well. Being so, many critics are puzzled over the logic behind Mumbai’s move. The obvious debate is that the franchise could have purchased another player for the same price. Now they find themselves in no man’s land.
Over the years, MI have made some incredible comebacks from seemingly hopeless positions and have gone on to clinch titles. That looks incredibly tough this season. And if they don’t make at least the playoffs, a number of questions will be raised over their auction moves.