Take out Hardik Pandya's brilliant cameo from Mumbai Indians' innings and it paints a picture of how bad the hosts were in the second half of the innings. Not for the first time. This is one of the patterns of their losses — middle order collapse. Once again, it came to haunt them in a crucial match, and put them in a tight spot.
At 87/0 in the 11th over, Mumbai were — or at least it seemed so — on their way to the 200-run mark. And why would one not think so? They bat up to No 8 (JP Duminy's only contribution, apart from fielding, in the match on Sunday was the couple of runs he ran for Ben Cuting). This situation begs a question, if a team that can afford such luxury why can't they consolidate on the strong platform laid by the top order.
The answer lies clearly in the three matches where Mumbai have tapered off after making an excellent start. Apart from Sunday's fixture, the other two games were the away match versus Rajasthan Royals and the home game against Delhi Daredevils. The ability to build partnerships after a big stand has clearly lacked in these games. It, of course, didn't help that Rohit Sharma was dismissed for a golden duck in both Rajasthan games but it is a worrying trend that Mumbai haven't been able to read the situation and play accordingly.
Even Rohit, who refrains from criticising his team openly, said the middle order let the team down.
"To be honest, on a pitch like that, we should've ended up getting 15-20 runs more. It's something that has got us back in the tournament in the few games that we lost. We didn't finish really well. Today was another game where we didn't finish off after getting the start we got."
A Cricket Prof stat sums up what has gone wrong with Mumbai's middle order. Their scoring rate in the first 15 overs while batting first is 8.86 — the second-best — but their scoring rate in the final five overs is only 9.52 — the third-worst this IPL. It also highlights how much the amount of responsibility Rohit carries.
After a quiet start, Hardik has started putting in valuable performances. In contrast runs have deserted Krunal Pandya — who began on a good note — as the season progressed. Ishan Kishan has blown hot and cold. While, JP Duminy hasn't simply been given the opportunities.
Losing three or four wickets quickly after a good start always puts the opposition in the driver's seat which is why one of the top order batsmen should look to bat through the innings. Jos Buttler has been doing so for the last five innings. That he bats in the middle order might have helped him in that period but in Suryakumar Yadav, Mumbai too have a batsman, who should start assuming responsibility.
Yadav was at one end during all the big partnerships of the three matches, where Mumbai lost their way in the middle. But Yadav's tendency to throw away his wicket just when the team needs someone to marshal the innings has hurt them. Having been a part of Kolkata Knight Riders for a very long time, experience is not a problem and it's about time that he takes a leaf out of Buttler's book and ensures he stays till the end once he has spent some time at the crease.
Courtesy this crushing Mumbai received from Rajasthan Royals, now they would have to win their remaining fixtures and hope the other results to go their way. And they only have
themselves their middle order to blame for this predicament.