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6 Things Mumbai Indians must do for an IPL 2018 comeback

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Rohit_Sharma_IPL_Mumbai_Indians_CricketHindsight is 20/20 and the game is always easier from the commentary box. Cricket pundits who conduct postmortems from the comfort of their living rooms, with all the time in the world, find fault with the tactics and execution of players and captains who sometimes have just seconds to strategize and execute their plans.

After 6 games of the 2018 season, the Mumbai Indians find themselves in a precarious position with just 1 win to show for their efforts. They need to pull up their socks and string together a series of wins to get their campaign back on track. All is not lost though. In 2015, they were in a similar position after 6 games, but clawed their way back to qualify for the playoffs and eventually clinch the title.

However, just saying that they have done it in the past doesn’t mean that they are certain to emulate their achievements of 2015. They will need to change certain things and fine tune strategies to climb back up the ladder. Here are 6 things they can do to turn their fortunes around.

Play the big moments a little better.

This may sound like a cliché but you cannot deny the truth in it. MI lost their first 3 matches to CSK, SRH and DD on the penultimate, final and last ball of the match respectively. During their 4th loss to RR, they lost with just 2 balls to spare.

This shows that they have created opportunities for themselves and competed well in matches. But have then faltered at crucial moments, handing over the advantage to the opposition. Twenty20 cricket is a game which is often decided by the most miniscule of margins, and merely creating chances and getting into favorable positions is not enough.

Even in their most recent loss to SRH, they did the hard work and restricted their opponents to 118. But they muffed up the easiest of chases to lose by 31 runs. To lose by such a huge margin after an outstanding show with the ball is criminal. Mumbai cricket is known for its ‘khadoos’ attitude and MI need to show it on the field.

Reevaluate Pollard’s role and position in the team.

Pollard is a 3-dimensional cricketer who is known for his big hitting, electric fielding and occasionally chipping in with some useful overs of medium pace. In IPL 2018, he hasn’t bowled a single over and has walked in to bat with barely 5 or 6 overs remaining.

In 6 matches, he has scored just 63 runs at an average of just 15.75, a poor strike rate of 110.52 and a top score of just 28. These are extremely poor returns for a cricketer of his caliber, and suggest he is lacking form and confidence.

Every squad has 7/8 overseas players to choose from. If Pollard is not contributing, it might be worth giving JP Duminy a go as he is capable of wielding the willow and can also bowl some useful overs of off-spin. Otherwise, even Ben Cutting is a good option. MI need to be ruthless in their decision making and not get swayed by sentiment.

Make better use of Krunal Pandya’s bowling with more spin in the Powerplay.

Krunal Pandya has been having a good season with the ball and has the best economy rate of all MI’s bowlers (7.06 off 15 overs). However, he has bowled his full quota of 4 overs in just 2 matches. That is poor utilization of his talent.

In the 6 matches, out of 36 overs bowled in the Powerplay, MI have conceded 300 runs at 8.33. Krunal Pandya and Mayank Markande are conceding runs at just 7.06 and 7.15 respectively. They have bowled just 5 overs of spin out of the 36 Powerplay overs. It might be a useful ploy to bowl a few overs of spin in the first 6 overs as this tactic has been used successfully by a lot of other teams.

Bring back skipper Rohit Sharma to open the batting.

Rohit Sharma opens for India in the shorter formats and is explosive at the top of the order. In this tournament, after failures in the first 2 games, he dropped himself to number 4. He has made only one worthwhile score: 94 in their only win so far against RCB. In that match, he came to the crease in the first over itself as Mumbai were tottering at 0/2.

In the next 2 matches, he was run out without facing a ball against RR and caught at slip for 2 against SRH. It is a mistake of monumental proportions to bat Rohit so low down the order, giving him just a few deliveries to face, especially when the team has lower order hitting power in Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard.

Having so many good strikers of the ball lower down the order is a waste of talent and Rohit should reclaim his place at the opening position.

Capitalize more with the bat.

In the match against RR, MI were cruising at 135/2 off 15 overs and still ended up with a paltry score of 167 off their 20 overs. Scoring just 32 runs off the last 5 overs with 8 wickets in hand is inexcusable. The 20 runs that they didn’t score in these last 5 overs was the difference between victory and defeat.

In the match against DD, they scored just 74 runs in the middle 9 overs after scoring 84 in the powerplay. In short, they have failed to make full use of the middle and death overs even when they have got off to a quick start. They’ve had their moments with the bat, but have been unable to sustain their scoring rate for the entire duration of the innings.

Finish the job after taking early wickets

These days, most teams bat deep. A bowling team cannot afford to relax after dismissing the top order and assume that the job is done. MI have been at the receiving end of outstanding innings from Dwayne Bravo of CSK, Deepak Hooda of SRH and Krishnappa Gowtham of RR.

While a team can always point to good innings against them by the opposition, the fact remains that MI’s bowlers failed to land the killer blow when they had their opponents on the mat. Thus, they lost a lot of games in the last over in spite of dominating with the ball for most of the innings.

 

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