Mumbai Indians are languishing at the bottom of the league after three successive losses. Two of those matches went down to the last ball, and the other to the penultimate delivery. A couple of those games were lost by a one-wicket margin too. Mumbai are the only team to not have won a toss this season, and Rohit Sharma's bad luck has hurt them.
Teams have chosen to chase in all nine matches so far this IPL season, and won eight of them. The only unsuccessful chase was when Delhi Daredevils were set 71 to win in six overs in a rain-hit match. It is some credit to Mumbai that they have lost all the tosses and yet come so close to winning all the matches. They have the season's top run-scorer, Suryakumar Yadav, and highest wicket-taker, Mayank Markande, in the dressing room, but no wins to show for it.
Against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday, in favourable chasing conditions at the Wankhede, Mumbai deployed a new plan once they lost the toss again. They opened with Suryakumar Yadav and he succeeded, playing unrestrained strokes on the ground where he has grown up playing domestic cricket.
Along with Evin Lewis, Suryakumar gave Mumbai their best Powerplay in the IPL and the highest opening stand this season. It was the perfect platform for the middle order to launch from, especially after No. 3 Ishan Kishan's 44 off 23 balls.
Mumbai were 158 for 2 with Kishan and Rohit Sharma batting and five overs to go. Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers were wickets in hand. The struggle that followed in the next 21 deliveries was unexpected. Pollard was bowled first ball, Rohit and Hardik Pandya were undone by slower deliveries from Trent Boult. Krunal Pandya inside edged to the keeper and Mumbai ended on 194 for 7.
Rohit said later that Mumbai "had not capitalised on the last five overs" and "were not consistent in terms of how they wanted to take the innings through, not able to finish off games."
Suryakumar also said Mumbai should have scored well over 200. "We were 10-15 runs short but still 180-plus score is a good score on any ground," he said after the match. "It was defendable when we started, while fielding we wanted momentum and to take early wickets but we couldn't get back. They batted really well and did not give us a chance in first 10-12 overs.
"It is little disappointing, not getting even one [win] out of three [matches]. But we know it has been done in the past as well, few games don't take away anything. It's a long tournament, we just need one game, then the momentum will be built from there."
Like Mumbai, Daredevils also changed their opening combination by picking England's Jason Roy instead of New Zealand's Colin Munro. They also sent Rishabh Pant at No. 3, a position he had batted at only three times last season with a strike rate of 208. Glenn Maxwell, Shreyas Iyer and Daniel Christian were the middle-order muscle, and they didn't need Christian on the day.
"As the situation demands, you have to be ready at any number you bat and all the players have to be on their toes," Iyer said after he saw the chase through with Roy. "You have to get the best results at any position you are told to bat at. In some matches, the luck didn't go our way but obviously all of us are hitting the ball really well."
Daredevils had had little luck in their rain-shortened chase against Royals in Jaipur three days ago. Like it did for Gambhir's men, Mumbai will hope theirs improves by the time Royal Challengers Bangalore come calling on Tuesday.