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Rohit bemoans 'irresponsible shots' from batters, urges them to take 'more responsibility'

Meanwhile, centurion Rahul attributes batting depth at LSG to him playing "freely" and "taking more chances" this season

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah
Rohit Sharma in a serious mood on the field, Lucknow Super Giants vs Mumbai Indians, IPL 2022, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, April 24, 2022

Rohit Sharma: Whoever plays in the middle needs to take that responsibility and make sure one of the batters bats long  •  BCCI

Many theories have linked Mumbai Indians' disastrous start to the season to their mega auction strategy, specifically the one surrounding Jofra Archer. Consensus has been that "the Archer spend" may set Mumbai up for domination for 2023 and beyond, but for IPL 2022, the bowling has ended up becoming over-reliant on Jasprit Bumrah for penetration.
However, on Sunday, the Mumbai bowlers held up their end of the bargain. Despite a KL Rahul century from one end, they conceded only 56 runs off the other 58 balls that the Lucknow Super Giants batters faced, and 169 was a gettable total. And yet, Mumbai were out of the game even before the final over of the chase was bowled.
In a tournament where viewers have been regularly spoilt by the IPL's habit of producing nail-biting finishes, Mumbai ended up in a situation where they needed 39 in six balls with five wickets in hand. They would eventually fall short by 36 runs following a painful 20th over where former Mumbai allrounder Krunal Pandya celebrated success with two wickets and a run-out, only delaying the inevitable.
With Ishan Kishan struggling for fluency (he made eight in 20 balls), Kieron Pollard unable to attack balls that are not full (he scored 19 in 20), and Rohit Sharma himself getting out to a loose shot, the captain said after Mumbai's eighth straight loss that the responsibility on the latest defeat lay on the batting group.
"When you have a target like that, it is very crucial to string those partnerships," Rohit told Star Sports. "We didn't do that, and then a few irresponsible shots including from myself. We couldn't get the momentum when we needed.
"You can say so (general lack of confidence among batters). We haven't batted well enough in this tournament. The whole thing goes on the batting unit. Whoever plays in the middle needs to take that responsibility and make sure one of the batters bats long. We've failed to do that in the tournament. None of our batters have batted long innings, which other teams' batters have done that. We need to make sure that no matter what the situation is, one man needs to bat longer."
Rohit's point is backed by only six half-centurions in eight games for Mumbai this season. Kishan, who has scored two of those fifties, has a strike rate of under 100 in the other six innings. Jaydev Unadkat has a better batting average (19.66) than Rohit himself, and the experienced Pollard has batted every game but has a top score of only 25. Suryakumar Yadav, who was out for three on Sunday, and young Tilak Varma have been carrying the burden of Mumbai's batting so far.
While Mumbai's latest defeat now keeps their playoff contention alive only in theory (they need to win their last six games and hope most of the other games get washed out), Super Giants moved back into the top four with their fifth win in eight games. For Rahul, the game was a battle against his own batting demons, with him being only one good ball away from being dismissed for a hat-trick of ducks at the Wankhede Stadium this season.
Instead, he got off the mark with a single to third man, cruised along at a run-a-ball 27 after an early wicket, raced away to a 37-ball fifty and got to a hundred by his 61st delivery. With wickets falling at regular intervals, and batters at the other end struggling to find boundaries early on, Rahul took the onus to move from anchor to aggressor at the back end, hitting his second IPL century against the same opponent in the same season - the first man to do so since Virat Kohli (vs Gujarat Lions) in 2016.
"[After two ducks] First thought while batting was to get bat on ball, feel good, get a single, get off the mark," Rahul said after the game. "Despite being mentally strong, it always plays on your mind when you're playing at a venue that's not been too kind recently."
When asked by the host broadcaster if Rahul - second on the orange cap race with 368 runs from eight matches - is doing anything differently in Super Giants colours as a batter, he said that a long batting line-up in his new franchise has helped his game.
"How I simplify my game is to try and assess the pitch and conditions and try and see how to bat. But we bat deep in this team - Jason Holder comes in late. When you have power and depth in your team, you can play freely and you can take a few more chances. That's what is happening with me in this team."
"Teams that defend well, bowl well in the powerplay and finish well in the death are teams that are sitting at the top."
KL Rahul
As for the contribution of the bowlers to reduce Mumbai to 67 for 4 inside 12 overs in the chase, Rahul said that teams that have bowled well at the powerplay and the death have not only been champions before but are finding success this season too. While aiming for that formula, Rahul said the luxury of allrounders has helped, more so on Sunday since Super Giants were playing without the injured Avesh Khan.
"I am very big on having a lot of allrounders in the team since that gives depth with bat and ball," he said. "And we were lucky to get some of the finest allrounders. I have options in the middle and [it] makes life easier as a captain as well as a batter. Teams that defend well, bowl well in the powerplay and finish well in the death are teams that are sitting at the top and teams that have won tournaments."
Sunday was meant to be a special day for Mumbai Indians. It was after 1086 days that the IPL's most decorated team was returning to its colosseum - the Wankhede - and the game provided a perfect opportunity to not only get back to winning ways, but also offer a birthday present to team mentor Sachin Tendulkar. Instead, it provided the latest chapter in a season to forget.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx