What's gone wrong with Mumbai Indians?

Krunal Pandya celebrates Corey Anderson's wicket BCCI

A few days ago, you could sympathise with Mumbai Indians because they were putting in the performances but narrowly missing out on results. Before their last match, they had lost four out of five games; all four in the last over while defending targets, and two by one wicket.

On Tuesday against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai had no one to blame but themselves. Chasing 119, they collapsed to their lowest-ever IPL total of 87 on a fresh Wankhede pitch against an attack that was without Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Billy Stanlake.

What has gone wrong for them? Here are a few factors that have combined to put Mumbai Indians at the bottom of the table.

Middle-order woes

Mumbai's strength during last year's winning campaign has turned into their weakness. The personnel has remained similar, after an auction in which they attempted to retain the core of the Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard, but that core has not fired.

Mumbai's think-tank also decided to open with Suryakumar Yadav after their first two losses, so that Rohit Sharma could add stability to the middle order. Even though Suryakumar has adapted well, the lack of runs from the Pandyas and Pollard has hurt Mumbai.

In each of their six matches so far, at least one of their top-order batsmen - Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar - has given them a start. The hole in the middle order was exposed the most against Delhi Daredevils, when all of their top fired to power Mumbai to 141 for 2 in 13 overs. From there, they unravelled in the attempt to accelerate and ended on 194 when they were on course for 220.

Hardik Pandya's case is unusual. He started off well in the opening match at No. 5 but has moved down to No. 7 since then, below Krunal Pandya and Pollard. Apart from two unbeaten innings of 22 and 17, he has scored nine runs across three innings while coming out to bat in the last three overs. It could be that bowlers have found out Hardik's weakness and don't deliver the ball in his arc anymore. When Mumbai head coach Mahela Jayawardene was asked about this, he didn't dismiss the possibility.

"We knew that there will be people bowling at a different level because we analyse other opposition, we do analyse our guys and we give them information that this is something you look forward to and this is something that we need to work on," he said. "Every year you can't bat the same way. If people don't evolve and improve, there is no progress. Young guys like Hardik will learn that and need to work harder, the talent alone will not get you there. Reading the game and thinking about the game, that's the part they need to keep learning and especially with international bowlers coming and doing various things, you have to evolve, otherwise you won't be able to be consistent."

Where is Pollard?

Pollard's transition from a fixed asset to a non-performing one seems to be happening rapidly this season. He doesn't bowl in the IPL anymore, he hasn't won his side a match in times of crisis, and he takes one of the four overseas spots. Apart from the lack of runs, it is also his position that is under scrutiny now. He has been coming out to bat with not much time left in the innings and is striking at 88.23 in his first 10 balls, the fourth-worst of all batsmen to have faced a minimum of 30 balls this season. Will Mumbai now look to move him up the order or will they drop him altogether?

Bumrah's 19th-over horrors

Jasprit Bumrah has made such a reputation for himself in the death overs that even a small drop-off in his performance leads you to wonder what's wrong with him. He has bowled well mostly - his Smart Economy Rate this season is 6.36 - but a couple of poor 19th overs have cost Mumbai games they might otherwise have won.

The first time was when Chennai Super Kings needed 27 from 12 balls and Bumrah started the penultimate over. He attempted to bowl the yorker four times in the first five balls and got only one of them right. The other three went for sixes off Dwayne Bravo's bat. Bumrah got him out off the sixth ball, but only after his over had gone for 20.

That being the tournament opener, it is possible his confidence took a hit. Against Rajasthan Royals, Bumrah bowled a superb 17th over, varying his pace beautifully to pick up two wickets, and only conceding one run. When the 19th over began, Royals needed 28. Bumrah bowled short and wide twice, to Jofra Archer and K Gowtham, who both slapped him for four, overstepped on one occasion, and failed to nail his yorker even once. He leaked 18 in the over and Mumbai suffered close defeat.

Is Rohit batting in the right position?

Rohit Sharma clarified after his 94 against Royal Challengers Bangalore that he would continue in the middle order to allow Suryakumar and Kishan to flourish at the top. Rohit may have been batting at No. 4 on that particular day, but he walked out in the first over, with Mumbai 0 for 2, effectively opening the innings - which is where he bats for India.

Opening works for Rohit because he is at his best when he has time to get his eye in, and time is a luxury in T20 cricket. In all T20s since 2015, he has a first-10-balls strike rate of 117.6, with a dot-ball percentage of nearly 50 in that time. If he opens for Mumbai, he can afford to go slow early on, since he will have Lewis or Kishan to do the early hitting at the other end. Once he's set, Rohit is capable of murderous acceleration: once he has faced 30 balls, he strikes at 177.3. That was exactly the case against Royal Challengers; he was on 40 off 30 after 14 overs, and then launched into the quick bowlers to score 54 runs off his next 22 balls.

As captain, Rohit might be thinking long-term by promoting Suryakumar and Kishan up the order. But given the situation Mumbai are in, he will have to prioritise immediate results over developing younger players. And for that, moving back up to open might not be a bad idea.