Getting outplayed is not something that one would associate with the Mumbai Indians (MI) too often, when taking their performances in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) into account.
Monday's hammering at the hands of defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), who bounced back in style after suffering a couple of losses, was undoubtedly their worst of the season so far, though MI's hard work throughout the season has ensured they continue to remain on top of the table despite the defeat.
Mumbai were perhaps looking to take things a bit easy after becoming the first team to storm into the playoffs, and that might have reflected in their decision to bat first with an unchanged team at the start of the match.
For the second match running, Mumbai went in with the opening combination of Lendl Simmons alongside regular choice Parthiv Patel, with the duo hammering the Delhi Daredevils bowling unit out of the park at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium two days ago. This time, however, it was the surprise inclusion of Mohammad Nabi in place of Kane Williamson that paid the dividends in for the Sunrisers. Simmons perished in the second Nabi delivery that he faced, getting his middle stump knocked over while looking to play across the line towards the leg side.
Young sensation Nitish Rana, as well as Patel, did not quite last for long thereafter, as the visitors' top-order simply failed to adjust to the variations that Nabi and Siddharth Kaul were producing. The slow track made it even more difficult for the batsmen to execute their shots.
One could say that the battle was half lost for Mumbai in a wasted powerplay, with a meagre 36 coming off it. In a format as short as the Twenty20, regaining momentum in a match can be a very difficult task once it is let go of. In Mumbai's case, it was always going to be an arduous task to get their scoring rate back to par after the cheap dismissals of their top-order, especially when confronted by an attack as potent as that of the Sunrisers.
It was quite commendable of skipper Rohit Sharma to bring Mumbai back to their feet and guide them to a total that they could think of defending, to say the least. Unlike his fallen comrades, Rohit showed a sense of application at the centre and adjusted well to the testing conditions at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. At one point, he had singlehandedly contributed to more than half of the team's runs and had put Mumbai in a position from where a 160-run total was well within sight.
That was before he chopped one off Kaul onto his stumps, which signalled the second collapse in the Mumbai innings, with the last two overs fetching a measly 12 runs for the loss of three wickets. Full credit once again to the bowlers, anticipating the intentions of the batsmen and adjusting their line and lengths accordingly.
"Wicket was sticky, so I bowled well in the Powerplay. Just focus on line and length, don't release the ball too early, focus on the batsmen, what's he doing," said Nabi after the match, according to ESPNCricinfo.
While the total was a low one on paper indeed, Hyderabad did falter while chasing 149 in their last outing against Pune, falling short eventually by 12 runs. Mitchell McClenaghan gave Mumbai a ray of hope after trapping David Warner lbw with just seven on the board. An early dismissal of the Orange Cap holder, who has been phenomenal this season as he has been in the previous ones, was just what the visiting team needed in their defence of the lowly total.
It was sad on Mumbai's part that they did not do justice to the golden opportunity that they were offered early in their defence and allowed the game to slip out of their hands slowly as Shikhar Dhawan and Moises Henriques cemented a match-winning second-wicket stand worth 91. The duo did not hit the panic button at any stage of the game, sticking to rotating the strike between themselves during the tough phases, while punishing any bad deliveries that came along their way. There were times when the Mumbai bowlers started becoming predictable, while the fact that the pitch starting easing out only helped their case.
Their first team to a side other than Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) will not really do their campaign much of harm, although Rohit and Co mustn't allow the winning momentum to slip out of their hands ahead of the playoffs. They next face Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), who themselves are desperately fighting for a place in the top four, at the Wankhede Stadium, with the odds heavily favouring them already.
Maybe they could look towards making a change or two for that game — bringing Krunal Pandya back in the fray aside from giving Lasith Malinga a bit of a breather, and draft Mitchell Johnson back in his place. Mumbai may have let one game slip, but should remain as 'Khadoos' as they can in their last two league matches.
Published Date: May 09, 2017 18:47 PM | Updated Date: May 09, 2017 18:47 PM