Point of No Returns as MI Formula Backfires - The New Indian Express

Point of No Returns as MI Formula Backfires

Published: 02nd May 2014 08:40 AM

Last Updated: 02nd May 2014 08:40 AM

Just five games into the Indian Premier League and holders Mumbai Indians have already made history. With five defeats in as many matches, it is the worst start made by a defending champion across seven editions of the league. The franchise, which until last season boasted of superstars in its line-up, has been struggling to get going. What was supposed to be a desert adventure has turned out to be a nightmare for the Rohit Sharma-led team.

Their leading players are underperforming and their revamped squad after the auction hardly looks menacing. Mumbai Indians now resemble a burnt carcass of a damaged Rolls Royce, noticeably elegant, but in a pathetic state.

When they decided to retain Rohit, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga and Ambati Rayudu prior to the auction, it was expected of them to build a team around these star players. But somehow they failed to fill in the blanks. Now, it has four wheels, a steering — without an able driver, aided by an old engine in Michael Hussey.

The batting is nowhere close to settled. That their first choice of openers Hussey and Aditya Tare didn’t contribute much at the top meant Rohit was pushed up the order in the last two matches, making the already fragile middle-order look even more thin. Though the likes of Rayudu, Pollard, Corey Anderson and wicketkeeper CM Gautam are all talented, none have consistency written alongside their name.

“They have got the wrong players this time. They normally buy multi-skilled players at the auction and also ensure they have a good set of local bunch. But this time, there is not a single name who can bring the fear factor to the opponent. They bought Anderson, but he doesn’t have the reputation. Their batting looks so thin and until and unless Rohit and Rayudu contribute, it is going to be a long hard season for them,” said former India spinner Maninder Singh.

Some of the local talents who have made it to the dressing room like Shreyas Gopal, Sushant Marathe, Pawan Suyal highlight the struggle they had in putting together a team in the auction. “They don’t have in-form players and are playing two wicketkeepers Tare and Gautam in the XI. Both of them won’t be sure shots in any other side. It shows how much they are lacking when it comes to Indian players. They don’t have players like Suresh Raina or Dinesh Karthik,” said Lalchand Rajput, former assistant coach of the franchise.

Mumbai are also paying the price for buying a player who was short on match practice — Hussey — just like they did with Andrew Symonds in the 2011 auction. “What is the use of having Hussey in the side? He doesn’t play first-class cricket anymore. Instead could have bought Dwayne Smith or Brendon McCullum. Even Pollard, coming from an injury lay-off, has looked rusty. They have built the team with the wrong foundations and it is clearly visible,” Maninder added.

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