Mumbai Indians went into IPL 9 as defending champions. And having one of the strongest sides in the competition, they were again expected to do well. But, while Mumbai had a few memorable moments, their overall effort was disappointing. They won seven and lost as many games to finish at a disappointing number five position, and thus failed to qualify for the play-offs. The numbers make it clear that inconsistency was their biggest bane in the series. In the previous seasons, they began slowly but gradually pulled things together. This season though there was no rhythm to their game.
Failure of big-hitting batsmen: Mumbai had some big names in the batting department, but very few of them made an impact in the season. Rohit Sharma did well with the bat, scoring 489 runs with the bat although he would have liked to do more. Apart from him, Ambati Rayudu was the only batsman to cross 300 runs for Mumbai, which says a lot about their struggles. There were plenty of hopes from Kieron Pollard, but one fifty was all he managed. Like Pollard, Jos Buttler also went in with a big-hitting reputation, but failed to register a single fifty.
Injury and poor form: Mumbai were dealt with a massive blow when the injury prone Lasith Malinga was ruled out at the start of the event. With him gone, a lot of hopes rested with Harbhajan Singh. The veteran off-spinner did manage to keep things tight, but did not have the desired numbers in the wickets column. Of all the bowlers, New Zealand Mitchell McClenaghan stood out with his consistency and incisiveness. But, his country-mate Tim Southee was not as successful, although another quickie, Jasprit Bumrah, did reasonably well.
Strange tactics: Rohit may have carried on his good work with the bat, but his tactical decisions were perplexing in some cases. The most bizarre of all decisions was to keep sending Hardly Pandya in at number three although he was constantly failing. Pandya has the talent to do well without doubt, but this season, even after having played for India, he seemed off colour. Hardik failed to do anything of substance with the bat and, unfortunately, the same can be said of his bowling. The decision to keep out Kiwi all-rounder Corey Anderson was also perplexing as he is a proven match-winner.
The final word: Mumbai should be disappointed at having failed to progress to the next round, but they have only themselves to blame. They began with a defeat, and bowed out with one as well. In between, there were some dazzling performances from the likes of Rohit and Rayudu, while Krunal Pandya also impressed with his all-round skills. But, Mumbai's fielding let them down in a few games, and the unavailability of Lendl Simmons at the top of the other also proved to be a handicap. In the end, it would be fair to say that Mumbai did not perform well enough to make it to the final four.
--By A Cricket Analyst