When Rohit Sharma landed in UAE after the cancellation of the final Test match between India and England, Mumbai Indians had been in the country for more than a week. For the better part of it, they were gearing up and warming up like a flawless unit, imagine Special Forces division of UK (Secret Air Service) and yet by the time the business end arrived, they looked a different team altogether; some shattering losses and Mumbai’s campaign derailed very quickly. Although, thanks to the nature of the tournament, they were in it for a very long time; nonetheless, the challenge of beating SRH by a margin of more than 140 in last league game was too much. At one stage, it looked like they might pull it off, but it was way too much. It was a painful season for a team which has mastered the art of winning IPL.
IPL 2021 record: Played: 14; Won: 7; Lost: 7; Standing: 5th.
Beating Chennai Super Kings at Feroz Shah Kotla in a high-scoring thriller was an ideal end to the tournament for Mumbai before Coronavirus-enforced suspension. With most of the country in pain and suffering, Kieron Pollard’s finishing act not only brought joy to Mumbai but whole of Indian cricket fans who saw 15 runs being chased down in the final over. They needed 219, and kept losing wickets at regular intervals, yet they were home just in time. While the team celebrated from the dressing room, the Pandya brothers-Hardik and Krunal, rushed to the middle to congratulate ‘Pollie.’
Losing the opening game of the second leg was certainly a point to ponder. Mumbai had CSK on the mat with the score reading 24/4, but they let them run away with the game. Moreover, when it came to chasing down the modest target of 157, their middle-order never kicked in. Result: they lost the game by 20 runs and gave a glimpse of less-than-average show that was awaiting them.
Rohit Sharma, who is widely believed to be succeeding Virat Kohli in the near future, could have built his case by winning the trophy, instead he showed glimpse of minor if not gaping hole in his captaincy. The over-reliance on Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan cost too much in the end even as a young Amolpreet Singh kept waiting on the sidelines. Krunal Pandya was tested too many times despite the fact that he neither scored, nor gave any assistance to Rahul Chahar as the second spinner. On some occasions, Rohit even held Jasprit Bumrah, Mumbai’s top wicket taker, for late assault. When asked about their poor performance in UAE, Rohit squarely blamed the batters with he himself producing just two single digit scores. A little resilience was the need of the hour.
Most valuable player
Despite less than inspiring performance from the whole team, Jasprit Bumrah never looked out of place. India’s pace spearhead accounted for 21 wickets in the entire tournament and gave a hot chase to the likes of Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan in Purple Cap standings. Kieron Pollard also came to the party with 245 runs at an astounding average of 148.48.
Hardik Pandya. Not only the all-rounder was a top priority for Mumbai, a number of Indian fans wanted him to warm up for the upcoming T20 World Cup in style. Instead he didn’t bowl a single over in the entire tournament which was worrying to say the least. Fans could have breathed a sigh of relief had he batted well, but here also numbers tell a sad story. He scored just 127 runs at an average of 14.11.
This season would dent the myth of Mumbai Indians who have won the IPL trophy five times. They must have thought that just like every year, they might pull off the trophy almost anyhow. 2021 proved to be the reality check. They were doing fine when the season began in India, but with the break they lost the momentum. The management needs an introspection and they need it fast before the mega auction.
Most runs: Rohit Sharma (381)
Most wickets: Jasprit Bumrah (21)
Highest individual score: Kieron Pollard (87 v DC)
Best Bowling Figures: Nathan Coulter-Nile (4/14 vs RR)