A steep fall, a struggling stabilisation near the end of the league stage and an unforeseen spot at the bottom of league table with 8 points, 4 wins and 14 attempts defines Mumbai Indians’ IPL 2022 journey.
Five-time champions Mumbai Indians are the most successful franchise in IPL history, followed by Chennai Super Kings (four title wins). But this year, all the tables seem to have turned. IPL 2022 looked like it was going to be a walk in the park for MI with a solid line-up with most of the core retained from the previous editions.
The franchise retained long-time captain Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Kieron Pollard and Suryakumar Yadav. Mumbai then splurged handsomely to retain wicketkeeper-batter Ishan Kishan, picking him up at the Mega Auction against Rs15.25 crore (the highest bid for any player in IPL 2022). Tim David, Jofra Archer, Dewald Brevis and Daniel Sams were bought for Rs 8.25 crore, Rs 8 Crore, Rs 3 crore and Rs 2.6 crore respectively.
Jofra Archer was bid for keeping in mind the long game because he had to sit out this season due to fitness issues. Archer is but a killer with the ball, often exceeding speeds of 150 km/hr. Jasprit Bumrah was seemingly left alone in the fast bowler department till Daniel Sams graced the scene. However, a crippling shortage of good spinning action was felt by Mumbai. Murugan Ashwin, Mayank Markande, Hrithik Shokeen and Sanjay Yadav failed to make much of a difference.
MI veteran Pollard’s poor form – both with the bat and ball – impacted the erstwhile surety and confidence with which the team dominated over participants in the tournament.
With an infinite number of things going wrong, injuries benching players and the team just not finding its glue, Mumbai Indians looked desperate during the first half of the league. With eight consecutive losses they gave up hopes of a playoff berth but found a teensy bit of their mojo near the end. Let’s take a look at the mammoth team’s dismal performance, the reasons behind it and its possible future.
Shock and a miss
It was nothing short of a freak situation when MI lost eight games on the trot before clinching their first victory of the season against Rajasthan Royals on 30 April. Post this, MI managed to bag 3 wins out of 5 matches, bringing their total number of wins this season to four. IPL 2022 spelt doom for an otherwise rock-solid team on paper as they languished at the bottom of the league table throughout the season.
This was the worst season for Mumbai as nothing seemed to gel well for them.
Opener Ishan Kishan, along with co-opener Rohit Sharma, failed to blaze away. When asked about the poor performance of MI openers, coach Mahela Jayawardene said, “It has been up and down. To be honest, Ishan batted really well in the first couple of games, and then a bit of a slide. Ro (Rohit) has been hitting the ball really well, he gets good starts, 15-20 runs, looking good and then not being able to convert.”
While the thunderous Rohit Sharma failed to score even a 50 this season, Ishan Kishan too failed to get back on track after a blazing 81*(48) against DC in the initial stages of the competition. He managed to put up a total of 418 runs from 14 matches at an average of 32.15 and a strike rate of 120.11, with the help of three half-centuries.
But both fans and franchise were left agape when veteran Pollard too failed to save the sinking ship, with stylish shots, a fearsome strike rate and his skills with the ball. Pollard garnered just 144 runs from 11 innings with a top score of 25 and an average of just 14.40. His strike rate of 107.46 too was not at all a reflection of what the Trinidadian can bring to the table. So maybe Mumbai should accept that their all-rounder has run out of fuel enough to perform in a fast paced tournament like the IPL.
Even though Suryakumar Yadav managed to save MI’s face with consistent knocks, he too was ruled out of the tournament after suffering a muscle strain on his forearm. This dealt a severe blow to the already struggling team.
At the same time, Jasprit Bumrah boasts of the highest number of wickets (15) and best figures for MI this season (5/10 against KKR), but he too took his own sweet time to get into the groove of things.
Even though MI’s retentions did not fire, Tilak Varma, Daniel Sams and Tim David proved to be a silver lining in an otherwise gloomy horizon.
Uncapped debutant sensation Tilak Varma was Mumbai’s saving grace this season, holding the middle order strong with a brilliant display of strokes and skill. It was not a surprise when this hidden gem turned out to be the second highest run-getter for MI with 397 runs in 14 games at an average of 36.09 and a strike rate of 131.02
Legendary Sunil Gavaskar too vouched for the youngster’s bright future as an all-format batter for India.
“Tilak Varma’s temperament has been fantastic. In his knock against Chennai Super Kings, he walked into the middle when the team was under pressure. But the way he dealt in ones and twos (early on) was impressive,” Gavaskar said on Star Sports.
“He played a wide range of shots and kept rotating the strike. This shows that he has a good cricketing head on his shoulders, and I think that’s important,” he added.
Daniel Sams too proved to be a good investment as the bowler managed to scalp 13 wickets in 11 matches while maintaining an economy rate of 8.81. His best figures were 4/30 against CSK. He turned out to be pretty sweet with the bat too.
Tim David, hailed as Pollard’s probable replacement, made a handsome comeback after he was benched following MI’s first two matches, where he score 12 and 1. Tim David’s blistering 44 off 21 balls against Gujarat Titans helped MI win the match by 5 runs.
How and why exactly did MI falter?
The age-old adage “too many cooks spoil the broth” may apply aptly to this situation. Building a team takes time, getting players to feel like a team takes longer.
This more or less sums up Mumbai Indians’ run in IPL 2022 – a fight to settle at camp before performing on field or maybe it can be attributed to the lack of a stable playing XI.
The decision to let go of Quinton de Kock, Pandya brothers may have seemingly backfired as well because the younger brother Hardik managed to lead debut franchise Gujarat to the final of IPL 2022. That goes to say something.
All in all it was a pretty unimpressive season for the erstwhile giants of the tournament. It’s all in a fall and how. From table toppers to table bottom-ers, the key factors missing were a sense of cohesion, a strong kick-start and a soulful rhythm to get things in groove. Right from old options failing to spark to new options not knowing their place in the milieu of things, it was a tragedy of errors to say the least. Maybe next season, lesser injuries and good form will bless Mumbai Indians so that they can reclaim their lost glory. Jofra Archer’s presence might be the ‘make-it-or-break-it’ factor next season. Let’s see what 2023 has to offer.