To defend IPL crown, Mumbai Indians need to plan much better

The results of Mumbai Indians in the first two matches of the IPL 7 read - 1) lost by 41 runs to Kolkata Knight Riders 2) Lost by 7 wickets (15 balls remaining) to Royal Challengers Bangalore. They have been beaten comprehensively in first two matches. Just a reminder - Mumbai Indians are the defending IPL champions and winners of the 2013 Champions League T20.

Mumbai had a fabulous outing last year; they even retained the full quota of 5 players that formed the nucleus of the team - Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu and Lasith Malinga. They bought back Pragyan Ojha using the Right-To-Match card. Although they let go Mitchell Johnson and Glenn Maxwell, they performed decently at the auctions to develop a well-balanced side.

With the squad they have on paper they are considered competitive enough to defend the title. So what has exactly gone wrong in the first two matches of the tournament this season?

Rohit Sharma needs to plan better. BCCI

Rohit Sharma needs to plan better. BCCI

It's the lack of planning that's hurting the side. This was clearly palpable in the first match against Kolkata Knight Riders. Chasing 164 wasn't going to be easy on a green pitch which had had plenty of bounce.

Morne Morkel bowled a wonderful spell first up and Mumbai openers Michael Hussey and Aditya Tare were all at sea. Morkel’s first spell read 2-0-2-0. Then came Narine into the attack and he removed Michael Hussey in his first over itself. He was straightaway taken out of the attack as Mumbai score read 25/1 from 5 overs (Required run rate 9.26).

Narine has an economy rate of 5.38 in T20s which is stupendous. He has the best economy rate in the IPL - 5.42 and Gambhir cleverly preserved him for the latter part of the innings against the danger men.

At the end of 13 overs, Mumbai Indians were 83/2 (Required run rate 11.57). They required 81 runs off the last 7 overs of which 5 were going to be bowled by Morkel and Narine.

There was no planning at all. They should have known that it would have been difficult to get away Narine and Morkel at the death. Morkel was in good rhythm and in the past too he has shown that he can be lethal in the end overs too.

Rather than going after Shakib Al Hasan, Jacques Kallis and Piyush Chawla, they were content at picking up singles and twos. From the sixth to 13th over, they hit just three fours and garnered only 58 runs in that period when the asking rate was increasing rapidly.

The result - Morkel returned in the 14 over, conceded just 3 runs and then removed Rohit Sharma in his next over. It was Narine show from then on as he wreaked havoc to remove Rayudu, Anderson and Harbhajan. Mumbai were never in the game once he came on for his second spell.

If Mumbai had planned and attacked the less lethal bowlers in the middle overs, knowing that it wouldn't be easy to get away Narine and Morkel, they would have been left with a less challenging task. They lost it in the middle overs.

It was their batting line-up that faltered again against RCB as they were bundled out for 115. Mumbai needs to plan its batting order. They rode high on Dwayne Smith's performance while opening in the last edition. Either of the openers, Smith or Sachin Tendulkar made sure that Mumbai were off to a decent start.

This time around Aditya Tare has struggled against the new ball, Hussey too has failed so far. Rayudu has been promoted to no. 3 but he has found it difficult to get going. Rohit Sharma is Mumbai's best bet in the batting order; he's opened for India in the limited over internationals and done well. He was Mumbai's leading run-getter in the last edition. He needs to promote himself to the opening spot or no. 3.

No matter how dangerous a weapon you may have in your arsenal, it's a waste if you don't know how to use it.
They are dangerous, they are marauders, they can hit every ball out of the park, one of them is the fastest centurion in ODIs; how many times have we heard these descriptions about Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson? Names such as Pollard and Anderson look ominous in the batting order but what's the use of sending them at five and six?

Mumbai has, all these years, messed up with Pollard's batting position and more often than not the fans have clamored just one statement after a Mumbai loss - If only Pollard was sent up the order!

Both Pollard and Anderson are massive hitters of the ball, one of them needs to be shifted up the order and Tare or Rayudu can be shifted to no. 6. This will make sure that singles and two's will be punctuated by big hits and the scoring isn't choked.

Mumbai's strength this season is its bowling. With the likes of Malinga, Harbhajan, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, they have a formidable bowling attack. But we saw last season with Sunrisers Hyderabad how important is the contribution of the batsmen. Their bowlers single-handedly kept them in hunt but couldn't push them past the finish line. They were hurt by the failure of batsmen at a crucial juncture.

Malinga will depart for National duties in the first week of May which will create a big hole in Mumbai’s bowling line-up. Its the batsmen who will need to complement the bowlers well if Mumbai are to retain the title. There is still a long way to go in the tournament and Mumbai think-tank needs to get it's planning right as soon as possible, else it will be too little too late!

Updated Date: Apr 25, 2014 20:05 PM

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