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Jayawardene: 'We haven't been ruthless enough to finish it off'

Rohit Sharma says they're "trying to find ideas, different thought processes, but doesn't seem to be working at the moment"

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
A fifth loss in a row and Mumbai Indians, the most successful franchise in IPL, are now nearly in must-win territory in IPL 2022 by languishing to the bottom of the points table because they haven't been "ruthless enough," according to coach Mahela Jayawardene. After staying alive in their chase of 199 for most parts on Wednesday night but falling short of their target by 13 runs against Punjab Kings, captain Rohit Sharma admitted after their fifth straight loss that they had "not been playing good cricket for a while".
Mumbai have been criticised for not diversifying their options at the auction and spending INR 23.25 crore (USD 3.1 million approx.) on just Jofra Archer and Ishan Kishan - the former is not even playing this IPL. They tried to fill the holes left by big hitters Quinton de Kock and the Pandya brothers by buying Tim David, Dewald Brevis and Tilak Varma, but they dropped David, worth INR 8.25 crore (USD 1.1 million) after giving him just two games at the start of the season.
On Wednesday, they also strengthened their bowling by bringing in Tymal Mills for Ramandeep Singh to sacrifice some batting depth. When asked if that was the best XI Mumbai had played, Jayawardene said: "We think we're playing the best XI given the conditions and how we want to set up with our skillset and sometimes the rub of the green doesn't go your way. I think we just need to find how we can be consistent with our bat, ball and on the field as well. We haven't been consistent in all departments when we got opportunities but we haven't been ruthless enough to finish it off.
"Today was to try and take the game deep because we were playing six batters and there's no better person than Surya[kumar Yadav] to finish the game off," he said of sending Suryakumar down at No. 5. "In that situation in the powerplay, they were swinging the ball so I didn't want Surya to go into that situation and not being able to play his natural game as well. It's just a tactical thing because the two young guys (Brevis and Tilak) you know what they're capable of. So [we've] given them a bit of freedom to go and control that situation so that Polly and Surya are able to chase that. That was the initial thinking. It's a call that we will take depending on how we're set up tactically against a certain opposition and stuff like that."
Rohit said at the post-match presentation that they were trying different things after they had lost their first four games to try and script a win but it wasn't working. "If you are not winning games you got to try and find a way you can succeed as a team, as a batting group," he said of changing the batting order. "So we are trying to find ideas, different thought processes, but doesn't seem to be working at the moment. But I don't want to take anything away from the guys. We fought pretty well, we batted brilliantly, but the Kings held their nerves pretty good and they won the game.
"We've been not playing good cricket for a while and that is why we are on the losing side. As simple as that. We just got to understand certain situations of the game and keep coming in that situation. One-ninety-plus was chasable on that pitch which was pretty good to bat on. We just got to go back and understand as a team and come [back] collectively as a group."
Mumbai's new-look bowling attack, barring the spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, has also not been able to stem the flow of runs in most games, especially off their fast bowlers. Daniel Sams has leaked 139 runs in his 11 overs in the first three games, Mills has picked six wickets but while going for nearly 10 an over, and Jaydev Unadkat and Basil Thampi have leaked over nine runs an over as well.
"We've built a bowling attack over a four or five-year period and after the big auction we were not able to retain all our options," Jayawardene explained. "We knew that we needed to be different and try and see how best we can execute. It's very tough to compare the attacks that we had in the past and the attack we have now. We still have some good quality bowlers, the skills are a bit different so we're tying to figure out how best we can control that and obviously we've seen that one of the best bowlers we bought at the auction was Jof [Archer], he's not here.
"It is tough in that kind of situation but we're trying to see how best we can manage. In terms of the last four-five games, we've had some really good spells, we controlled things well for a while but we cannot hold that pressure going on because on certain times it's either two or three overs that we go big and that has hurt us. So that's something that we really have to nail down and make sure that our execution is better in those situations."
Mumbai have been in this situation before. In 2014 too, they lost their first five games but went on to qualify for the playoffs with just seven wins and on net run rate because there were eight teams in the IPL then. What they can take heart from is the 2011 season, when it was a 10-team IPL, and the team placed fourth (Kolkata Knight Riders) had made the playoffs after winning eight games. For Mumbai to go on a similar path and qualify after winning only eight of their remaining nine games, they would also want many other results to go their way, which puts them in nearly must-win situation.

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo