A loss against Kings XI Punjab in their last home encounter on Wednesday this season will put an end to Mumbai Indians’ campaign for good. A win against R Ashwin’s team, who are likely to be reeling just like their net run-rate presently following the shock loss to RCB in Indore, will keep MI alive, but only barely. They’ll need other results to go their way and, of course, win their final league game against bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils in Delhi. Punjab had started the season on a canter but they don’t seem to have recovered from the apparent state of inertia since the five-day break in between a couple of weeks ago. They’ve lost 4 of the 5 games in May after having lost only once in their first 6 games of the season. Ashwin will be hoping that the lull in the middle is over and that his team will regain the momentum from the early part of the campaign, and they couldn’t ask for a better time for this. Two wins from here will confirm qualification. A loss though will them on shaky ground.
Top Heavy with bat and ball: This is not a slight against Chris Gayle but it somehow turns out that whichever team he plays for ends up being too top-heavy with their batting, especially when he is having a good time. It’s in a way a sign of just how single-handedly dominant he ends up being at the top. This year he’s found an able and equally destructive ally in KL Rahul, and the two have averaged 50 and 55.80 respectively. The problem though is that the next best performer with the bat for Punjab is Karun Nair, who’s gone at 22.45 so far. The rest have had a shocker. Only Mayank Agrawal has even managed to score over a 100 runs overall in 11 outings. Interestingly enough, even their bowling has been too dependent on two bowlers — Andrew Tye and Mujeeb Ur Rehman. Ashwin has been decent but his lack of wickets, and an economy over 8, hasn’t really allowed the Kings to maintain the pressure for too long.
No-one taking the heavy load: You look through the numbers that Mumbai have put up as a team so far, and it’s difficult to pin-point just why they find themselves in a tough spot presently. But it’s perhaps a case of nobody having taken the heavy load and playing decisive roles. The openers have been consistent had put up starts, but neither Suryakumar Yadav or Evin Lewis has really played a big knock. Rohit Sharma has been surprisingly tepid, except in a couple of run-chases, while the middle-order has chipped in but not regularly enough.
Mayank Markande started the competition as potentially the star of the season, but his stocks have waned. His googly doesn’t seem as unpickable as it was in April, and come mid-May, he’s proving to be rather expensive in the middle overs and putting the pressure back on the seamers. Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell McClenaghan have had useful seasons, sharing 25 wickets between them, without being spectacular. Hardik Pandya has been their most successful bowler but he hasn’t created enough of a match-turning impact with either bat or ball. With Mumbai in a now-or-never scenario, he could just be the man to come to the fore, with the hope of course that it won’t be too little too late.