Neesham, Coulter-Nile blow away Royals, who managed only 90/9 in must-win game

Express News Service

BENGALURU: For a team, which comprises one of the best white-ball openers and IPL captains ever (Rohit Sharma), death bowler (Jasprit Bumrah), new-ball bowler (Trent Boult), big-hitters (Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya) and proven performers like Suryakumar Yadav among others, anything short of a top-four finish would be a failure.

Mumbai might have undergone some changes in the last few auctions, but the core has mostly been untouched, helping them win an impressive three of the last four IPL titles. But the 2021 edition didn’t go as planned for the defending champions as they made an exit from the group stages for the third time in the last twelve seasons, including the ongoing one.

But, what led to the downfall of the five-time IPL champions? Here are a few numbers that highlight the problems ailing the team.

Take this, there is not a single Mumbai player in the top eight of the highest-run scorer list so far. Just compare these numbers to the last few seasons — In 2020, they had three players in the top eight, and one each in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and two in 2015. Only two players, including Sharma and Suryakumar, crossed the 300-run mark this season. This does not justify a team, which consists of big names like Hardik, Pollard, Ishan Kishan, Quinton De Kock among others. Lack of consistency from their key components — Kishan and Suryakumar — did not help the team’s cause either.

Even the bowlers were not up to the mark as Jasprit Bumrah, who scalped 21 wickets, did not receive much support. In fact, the bowling unit was hit hard in the UAE leg, which hurt them even more badly. For instance, of the 13 wickets Trent Boult took, five came in his seven matches in the gulf country. The Kiwi, who is known for taking early wickets and put pressure on the oppositions, could not play his role to perfection. The unavailability of Hardik, the bowler, hindered the team balance as well. He could manage only 127 runs from 12 matches this season, his worst show since 2017.

When the second leg of the competition shifted to the UAE, the spinners were expected to play a key role in any team’s success. Mumbai looked up to leg spinner Rahul Chahar, who had been picked for the T20 World Cup, but his performance has been poor. After taking 11 wickets in the Indian leg of the 14th edition, he only added two scalps in the UAE leg. This is a worrying sign for India too with the shorter format World Cup round the corner. His support cast, slow left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya lacked colour, claiming just five wickets this season.

In the past editions, someone or the other had always delivered when it mattered most, but no one raised their hand to take up responsibility and anchor the sinking ship this season. Mumbai have been known for delivering in the business end of the competition, but when they won the last two matches in the group stage, the ship had already hit the iceberg.

“We just did not play as a team to start with and collectively as a group, we did not come together. That was the main reason behind us not qualifying for the playoffs this year. When you want to win games and championships, everyone needs to perform collectively. That is what we have been doing successfully in the last few years, that is the hallmark of this team. We do not tend to rely on one or two individuals at any given stage, we always believe in everyone chipping in. That did not happen this year and it was disappointing,” said captain Sharma.