There have been many theories linked with 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.
“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.
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.”
“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.”
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