Mumbai Indians IPL 2014 review May 29, 2014

Mumbai toppled by lopsided squad

The defending champions got off to a horrendous start, and though they edged into the playoffs the squad lacked the quality and depth of 2013

Where they finished

The Eliminator after finishing fourth, with seven wins from 14 matches.

What went right

Mumbai Indians were one of two teams to sweep their home games in 2013. This year, their batting was continuously disappointing in the UAE but on their return to the Wankhede Stadium, they toppled Kings XI Punjab, the most dominant team of the season. They dropped only one game at their home ground. Lendl Simmons provided impetus at the top and with his performances, Mumbai managed scores that their bowlers had a proper chance of defending.

Harbhajan Singh was the other notable positive. The offspinner was more inclined to toss the ball up and even indulged in a few doosras, something he has mostly avoided in recent years. His 14 wickets came at an economy of 6.47 - second only to Sunil Narine for bowlers who have sent down more than 50 overs. Among the other regulars (besides Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan) Jasprit Bumrah was the only one with an economy under 8. Had Harbhajan received more support, Mumbai might have prolonged their season.

What went wrong

Five successive losses in the UAE. Rohit Sharma was vocal about the pride he felt in his team turning that run around and making the playoffs, but it was hardly the best way to kick off the defence of their only IPL title. A lopsided squad was attributed to poor strategy while retaining players and subsequently at the auction as well. They carried four wicketkeepers, their captain was not in the best of form, their premier finisher was returning from a long injury layoff, they hounded after the flavour of the season, arguably needlessly, and they had no back up for their best bowler when they knew he would have to leave for national duty.

Michael Hussey's struggles in the early season was as good as a poison pill. He had topped the charts for the run-getters list last year and seemed a lock to remedy the losses of Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith. Instead, Mumbai had to wait 10 matches for their first 50-plus opening partnership, in which time they had already fiddled with seven different combinations at the top. Rohit and Pollard were shuttled up and down to batting order on the basis of which holes needed to be filled the most. Neither of them were consistent and their dilemma over scoring quickly or battening down the hatches contributed to flagging run-rates in the middle overs. There was so much dearth that Aditya Tare (who played only five matches last season) and CM Gautam found a place in the XI quite regularly despite averaging under 20. An injury to Zaheer and Malinga's departure for England also left the bowling attack starkly depleted.

Key stat

Mumbai's scoring rate was 7.29 until the final league game against Rajasthan Royals. It was the lowest among all teams. They struck the second-lowest number of fours (164) and were third-lowest sixes (65).

Best player

Lendl Simmons made his IPL debut on May 10th. Since then, the only person who has accumulated more runs has been Robin Uthappa. Simmons' inclusion, with Malinga on national duty, helped remedy a fragile top order. The average opening partnership before he took the job was 14.57. Since he stepped up, it shot to 50. He doesn't look particularly elegant, but in getting his front leg out of the way and bashing the ball either side of the wicket, he was quite effective. A century - the only one of the IPL so far - boosted his average to 56.28.

Poor performer

The return of the IPL to India coincided with slow-bowling taking greater precedence. Although it has been a heartening season for the quicks, seven of the top-15 wicket-takers were spinners. Mumbai, with a stunted attack, needed Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha to form a profitable partnership. However, Ojha looped the ball too high, allowing batsmen to get underneath him or dragged it too short to sit up for the pull and unlike Harbhajan, he looked toothless once the batsman got on a roll. Ojha had the benefit of 24 Tests under his belt, yet his tally of four wickets in 12 matches at an economy rate of 8.26 placed him well below little-known Karanveer Singh, whose seven wickets required only three matches.

Surprise package

Corey Anderson played only three matches during the ODI series against India in January, but he was New Zealand's highest wicket-taker. Against West Indies, he had struck a career-defining century which tipped him as the best buy of the IPL auction. Mumbai's interest in him was almost guaranteed, despite having the very same player in Pollard. However, an average of 18.75 twinned with a strike-rate of 118 was not what the owners had bargained for. He struggled coping with high-quality spin, he resorted to slogging at the ball too hard and consequently was dropped for a few matches. His whirlwind at Wankhede was a long time coming and though it propelled them into the knockouts, his own relief at the end of that game revealed how much more had been expected of him.

Memorable moment

Despite their indifferent season, Mumbai did provide one of the most exhilarating matches in the league's history, culminating in the most important six Aditya Tare has hit in his career so far. He had just reached the crease. His side had needed 190 off 14.3 overs in the final league game to steal a playoff spot from Rajasthan Royals. They got 189. Wankhede had careened into despair until it was revealed that the net run-rate equation allowed for one final hurrah. If Tare could hit the 14.4th delivery to the boundary, Mumbai could still win well enough to make the eliminator. The rumble began, James Faulkner revved up and Tare was presented with a leg-stump full toss. The next several minutes were a blur of emotion as Tare smashed a resounding six and Wankhede erupted. Rahul Dravid flung his Royals cap into the turf, Tare brandished the Mumbai jersey at the opposition captain and hurtled away to the dugout to be mobbed by his team-mates.

Unused players

Josh Hazlewood, Sushant Marathe, Apoorv Wankhade and Jalaj Saxena (withdrawn after injury)

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mithun on May 31, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    If you see and compare the other team you see a mixed balance of bits and pieces players and seems the way to go in IPL T20. On other side MI has gone for specialist batsmen and bowlers. MI should look for local Mumbai talent which has a big pool of productive players. Look at the other team all local Mumbai players for other teams RR has 4-5 mumbai players in the playing 11.

  • rahul on May 31, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Think Praveen Kumar richly deserves some mention to what he brought to the team. His in-Out swingers were a treat to watch after missing him from the longer formats in Indian colors.

  • Jay on May 30, 2014, 19:19 GMT

    I think the time has come for Mumbai to throw out Kieron Pollard who has been useless for the past couple of seasons for them. Add to that, their middle order is a weak one to say the least. The biggest mistake was obviously to not retain Maxwell and Dinesh Karthik. But they need to find a couple of Indian domestic players for the Champions League. Otherwise, too much is left for Hussey, Anderson, Rohit and Pollard to do. You can't expect Simmons to give you flying starts every game. The bowling is okay but can be better. They need 1 good fast bowler, preferably an Indian and also an extra spinner to aid Harbhajan and Ojha. I can't seem to improve any more and I expect them to perform the same way next season as well.

  • niaz on May 30, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    MI is in a great shape. They have almost all the weapons. They need to bring a couple of indian spinners instead of Ohja and play Bumrah, PK, Harbhajan, Malinga. Their batting is fairly good. They can change Anderson or Pollard for another foreign batman, it would not change much. Its hard to pick between Hussey, Maxwell, Pollard, Smith, Hales, Faf, Miller, ABD, JP, Perara.. so many great international players. There are at least 15 or 20 great batsmen.

  • Dheeban on May 30, 2014, 14:54 GMT

    Oh please, this "defending" of title is overrated these days. Nobody is really defending titles. Every year it is a new tournament. Teams are completely revamped. Mumbai were current champions, but defending? No, neither were Rajasthan, Chennai, Deccan and Kolkata in the past. Next is these evaluation of players picked from tournament. This is a sport. Everything is not guaranteed at the top. You are not guaranteed the output of players when they were picked. If that were the case, everybody would have gone for Maxwell and Uthappa. Dinesh Karthik and Yuvraj would not have commanded so much money. What were Maxwell and Uthappa doing in the earlier seasons? This is sport. Lot of unknowns are there. Players develop. There is a certain luck/uncertainty factor involved. Sure, Punjab did well (BTW they lost the qualifier, isn't it) and let's congratulate them. But to say that they were the best predictors of future is not right..

  • Android on May 30, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    MI should change their strategy a bit next year.the 1st thing that they cant afford is playing both Pollard & Anderson in the same team.both r matchwinners at their own day bt otherwise extremely inconsistent too.1 such player is enough.2nd abroad space is reserved to Malinga whenever he is available.since malinga is there they dnt need 3 othr fastie,release one for accumulating Simmons.and for thr 4th spot they need a batsman who can bowl good spin balls who can hit the ball well.I prefer another careebian Samuels for that slot(hussey may retire so they can sign a new player).so the 1st team should be : Simmons, Tare,Rohith,Samuels,Pollard/Corry,Rayudu,Harbhajan,Zaheer/Pk,Malinga,Ojha,Bumrah

  • Shivakumar on May 30, 2014, 12:06 GMT

    Fairly good analysis by A Muthu

  • Android on May 30, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    discharge hussey and ojha will get extra 10crs in next auction. try to buy hales of eng / tamim fr banglasesh. look out option of oza frm domastic sack. and also 1 middle order batsman

  • Dummy4 on May 30, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    K11P attacked from start hence finished top of table

    Mumbai consumed overs by mediocres in bowling & batting & left finest bowlers & batters with too few overs in the end...............It's like u play bradman or Sachin as 7 & expect them to win u games??

  • Siva on May 30, 2014, 5:10 GMT

    Jadeja, Akshar Patel, Ankit Sharma- all OK. Murali Karthik and nadeem below par. What about Ojha? Ojha is just not suited for T20. Period.

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