Poor shot selection, wayward bowling, listless fielding: Why MI are on the brink of IPL 2016 exit

Mumbai Indians’ (MI) overall performance in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 was a mixed bag of brilliance and dullness.

Their defeat to Gujarat Lions was no different, and the defending champions have pretty much been dealt with a knockout blow in their last group outing of the ongoing tournament.

In their commanding 80-run win over Delhi Daredevils (DD) in the previous fixture, which helped them stay in the contention for a spot in the final four aside from boosting their net run-rate massively, they gave their fans as well as the opposing teams a timely reminder of why they are the title-holders.
Saturday however, turned out to be a damp end to Mumbai’s run in the group stage, and could very well be their last outing of the ninth edition of the tournament if things do not go their way in Sunday’s matches.

Gujarat Lions' Dwayne Bravo celebrates the wicket of Mumbai Indians' Nitish Rana. BCCI

Gujarat Lions' Dwayne Bravo celebrates the wicket of Mumbai Indians' Nitish Rana. BCCI

It was a day in which nearly everything went against Mumbai. Losing steam after getting good starts with bat and ball — the result of some terrible shot selection, msifields and wayward bowling, one would have expected an easier win for Gujarat had it not been for some shining performances by Nitish Rana and Vinay Kumar.

Let us take a look at the three stages in which Mumbai lost the plot in the 54th fixture of the cash-rich league, leaving their fate at the hands of other teams:

Losing the plot early:

More often than not, the fate of a match in the shortest format is decided within its first six overs (could also stretch to the first 10 overs for that matter). As unpredictable as this 20-over game is, the above statement especially holds water for the ninth edition of the league.

Rohit went hammer-and-tongs right from the beginning, smashing four fours and two sixes as Martin Guptill was reduced to a mere spectator at the other end. Mumbai got off to a spectacular start, thanks to some clean hitting by the skipper, who looked set to bring up his first half-century since the game against Rising Pune Supergiants.

Unfortunately for Mumbai, it all changed within the space of a few deliveries. Rohit went for an almighty pull in the fourth over, attempting to clear the deep square-leg fence, where the ball landed safely in the hands of Shadab Jakati just inside the boundary rope. Dwayne Smith came into the attack the next over, and few would have imagined him to get the crucial wickets of Guptill and Krunal Pandya in the same over, with both falling victim to poor shot selection.

Gujarat turned out to be the early bird by sending the dangerous trio back to the hut before they could cause any serious damage. A major opportunity lost for the visitors to get to another 200-plus total, on a track that had everything for the batsmen.

Damp end to a superb recovery:

After being benched throughout the season in last year’s edition of the tournament, Rana finally got his big break in the Mumbai Indians squad this season when he made his debut in the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore(RCB) at the Chinnaswamy. Although he displayed potential with some clean strikes in the subsequent game against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), he was yet to get a big score against his name to prove his worth. Until Saturday.

After the early breakthroughs, Rana took the centre-stage, and rallied with wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler for a vital fourth-wicket stand worth 75. In an innings that was studded with seven fours and four sixes, Rana kept attacking the opposition mercilessly with shots all over the park, displaying impeccable timing in his shots, and maintaining the necessary run-rate for his side. The stand with Buttler helped Mumbai recover better than what they would have expected after the early blows, as they hammered 62 runs in five overs at one stage to set their sights at the 200-run mark.

However, Gujarat Lions, with death specialists such as Dwayne Bravo, gave away just 19 runs in the last three overs of the innings, while collecting wickets at will. It robbed the defending champions of at least 20-25 runs, which could have been the difference between a victory and a loss for MI. Rohit later pointed out towards a less-than-satisfactory finish as one of the key reasons behind his side’s defeat, understandable given the conditions and the form that the opposition batsmen were in.

Failing to build on early momentum, yet again:

For a second time in the match, Mumbai failed to make the most of a good start. Vinay Kumar’s brilliance in the first over resulted in the dismissal of in-form Australian Aaron Finch with no runs on the board, a spectacular way for Mumbai to begin their defence of a below-par target. Unfortunately for them, skipper Suresh Raina and Brendon McCullum took barely an over to settle at the crease before launching their offensive on the bowlers. Purple cap-holder Mitchell McClenaghan went for a whopping 18 runs in his first over of the day.

It was a one-way street thereafter, as Raina and McCullum’s savage hitting all over the park brought the required run-rate down to a bare minimum. Smashing 96 runs for the second wicket in the next 54 balls, the foundation was set for Gujarat to chase the target down easily. The hosts faced a minor scare in the middle when they were reduced to 122 for four in the 13th over. However, the fact that the required run-rate was still under check helped hard-hitting Dwayne Smith lead the charge towards the finish line with a fluent 37 off 23. That they won with 13 balls to spare is a testament to what the pitch truly held for the batters.

Mumbai Indians still have an outside chance if Kolkata Knight Riders and DD go on to lose to Sunrisers Hyderabad and RCB respectively by convincing margins. As slim as the chances may be, the Mumbai camp will be sitting with their fingers crossed throughout Sunday. Should there be a miracle, and Mumbai somehow qualify for eliminator, they will get a chance to redeem themselves. Otherwise, a year-long repentance awaits them.

Updated Date: May 22, 2016 12:00 PM

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