The Mumbai Indians. The only team to have won five IPL titles. Winners of three of the last five editions. One of only two teams (alongside CSK) to win the IPL back-to-back, doing so in 2019 and 2020.
It all makes Mumbai Indians the most successful side in the IPL, the glitzy star-studded side from the Bollywood capital who had this IPL business all worked out better than anyone else.
Or did they? 2021 was already a warning sign that things were on the wane as they failed to make the Playoffs as defending champions. But 2022 was a whole lot worse.
Going in as defending champions and a favourite on the online cricket satta bazar, they’re zero from eight and in risk of putting in the worst performance ever in an IPL season. So the question is, what went wrong?
The Curious Case of Jofra Archer
One of the interesting aspects of the Mega Auction was the need for teams to plan for the next few years.
You bought a player not just with 2022 in mind but the next three or four years. Fine.
In fact, it was Mumbai’s planning for the future by buying the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Sky Yadav, the Pandya brothers and Ishan Kishan that saw them enjoy so much success between 2017 and 2020.
And it was with the future in mind that they bought Jofra Archer for 8 Crore, making him the joint-fifth most expensive player (including retained players) at Mumbai.
Except they knew 100% he wasn’t going to play in 2022 because of injury.
And it’s certainly not 100% that he’ll play next year either because the 2020 IPL Player of the Tournament continues to struggle with injury and hasn’t played any cricket for almost a year.
Archer may yet come good for Mumbai.
But right now, that’s 8 Crore that’s wasted on a player who no-one knows when he will be available.
The Ishan Kishan Gamble Gone Wrong
Speaking of expensive players, no-one was more expensive at the 2022 IPL auction than the 23-year old batsman/keeper Ishan Kishan, who went for 15.25 Crore, second only to Rohit Sharma at Mumbai in terms of salary, and the sixth best paid player at the tournament.
Kishan was another curious case as a player they didn’t retain but then went off and paid over the odds for at the auction.
At 23 you could see why they wanted him onboard for the next few years as an opening batsman and keeper.
Now, hindsight is 20/20 (or T20, to use a bad pun) as they say but after a fantastic season in 2020 when he was the fifth-highest runscorer at the tournament, he’d had a lean season in 2021, at one stage even being dropped for a lack of runs.
You can sort of see why they were so desperate for him but it just hasn’t paid off. After a strong start with back-to-back fifties, the runs have dried up.
Here are his last six scores: 14, 26, 3, 13, 0 and 8. He’s hit just three sixes all season and his pedestrian, insecure and confused 8 off 20 against Lucknow on Sunday was a contributing factor to yet another defeat.
He’ll come good at one stage or another but the pressure of being keeper and opener, not to mention that price tag, all proved to be too much for Kishan this season.
Batsmen’s Form Deserted Them
Tilak Varma, one of the very few positives to come out of their season, has more than done his bit: two fifties, excellent average of 45, super strike rate of 140, 13 sixes.
Those are the numbers you’d expect from a proven IPL star like Glenn Maxwell, Shreyas Iyer or Faf du Plessis.
We can also excuse South African prodigy Dewan Brevis, still only 18. He may not have got to 50 yet but made quickfire contributions of 29, 49 and 31 with that strike rate sky high. He’s one for the future.
And finally, we’ll accept that Sky Yadav has been his usual reliable self. Hard to argue with an average of almost 48 and a strike rate of 151.
But the other batsmen have let the side down. Varma, Yadav and the aforementioned Kishan each hit two fifties but no-one else did.
Where are Rohit Sharma’s good starts? He’s India’s T20 captain after all.
Where are Kieron Pollard’s strong finishes? He has a top score of 25 for the season despite being one of their retained players.
Kishan, as we’ve already said, has been a disappointment.
Tim David only had two chances after being yet another expensive purchase but didn’t make the most of them.
You’re not going to win many matches when just about all your batsmen are out-of-form.
Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
Every other IPL side has one, in some cases two, world-class spinners in the side.
The only possible exception is CSK who have Ravindra Jadeja, a decent spinner but not a game-changing one, in T20 cricket.
And CSK are almost in the same position as Mumbai are, just to prove the point.
In the past Mumbai had Rahul Chahar.
Ok, not in the same class as Rashid Khan or Sunil Narine but for the past three seasons he took almost exactly a wicket a game, with a very decent economy rate.
Mumbai seemed to ignore the need for a top-class spinner. That they paid just 1.6 Crore for Murugan Ashwin tells its own story.
As it happens, Ashwin has been decent with six wickets in six games and an economy rate of under 8.
And youngster HR Shokeen has been good too, since coming in for Ashwin.
In two matches his economy rate has been excellent even if he went wicketless. Another one for the future.
But you can’t help but think that a truly world-class spinner could have made a big difference this season.
They Didn’t have a Clue who Their Best XI Was
Mumbai’s squad had 25 players in it. So far, they’ve used 18 of them.
To put that into perspective, the Lucknow Super Giants have used just 15 and Gujarat 16.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with using lots of members of your squad depending on form, availability, injuries and conditions.
Tim David, who’d been in super form in T20 tournaments all over the world and cost a fortune, was dropped after two games.
Daniel Sams was also dropped after a slow start, was eventually recalled and played well in his second spell.
Tymal Mills played, was dropped, played again, was dropped again. You get the picture.
If Mumbai have accepted their fate and are already preparing for next year, that’s fair enough.
Then they should carry on making changes including, wait for it, letting someone come in for Kieron Pollard.
But for the most part, it smelt of desperation, of a team badly prepared and who hadn’t quite got the auction right.
Best Bets for Mumbai
It’s impossible for them to make the Playoffs and the IPL betting odds on them finishing rock bottom are too short for it to be worth it.
But there might be a decent one on the Mumbai top batsman (for the season) market, with Betway.
- Tilek Varma is the 1.9 favourite with 272 runs.
- But at 3.0 with Betway, you can back Sky Yadav.
Sky missed two matches with injury or would probably be ahead of Varma by now.
He’s an absolute class act and looks in decent form. He also tends to bat a place higher than Varma so should get more time at the crease. All in all, the cream should rise to the top.