Mumbai have task cut out against RCB as openers look for runs on belter

  • Somshuvra Laha, Hindustan Times, Bangalore
  • Updated: May 11, 2016 16:30 IST
Mumbai Indians players Jos Buttler and Martin Guptill during a training session ahead of their game against Royal Challengers Bangalore. (PTI)

Late bloomers every time they have been IPL champions, Mumbai Indians have an edge that makes every team scratch their heads before facing them. It could be pinned down to the confidence evoked by the Hollywood ensemble of legends in the coaching staff, the calming influence of Sachin Tendulkar or the fact they have their own system of voting someone as man of the match irrespective of the result.

The most interesting is Mumbai’s way of encouraging a player whether or not he has been chosen as man of the match. So every time a match finishes, the players and support staff would sit together in the dressing room, vote among themselves who they thought gave his best on the field and then pass on the result to the coach who would announce it in the team huddle. A round of applause followed before the team finally dispersed for the team hotel. It’s a practice followed despite disappointing defeats. And no exception was made to it even after Mumbai Indians’ heaviest loss this season on Sunday.

But things have come to a point of no return for the defending champions who slipped to their lowest total of the season. With five wins and five losses to their name, Mumbai Indians have again left the business of qualifying for the playoffs for the business end. To recover from an 85-run loss won’t be easy. And this time even the venue would weigh in as a crucial factor.

Bangalore’s reputation as a high scoring venue means bowlers have to toil harder. “I know that this is a high-scoring ground and we are expecting runs as well. Here you might go for runs, like 40 in four overs, but if you bowl a good over, it might change the spell,” said Mumbai’s Hardik Pandya on Tuesday.

Right now Mumbai’s biggest problem seems to be their over-dependence on their wicketkeeper-captain opening combination that has often given them power-packed starts in the past. After Vizag’s disaster, they can’t afford another slipup against RCB who seem to have overcome their initial woes with a similar wicketkeeper-captain opening combination.

It was evident in the way Virat Kohli was content rotating the strike while KL Rahul went after the Kings XI Punjab bowlers on Monday. MI’s Parthiv Patel has been explosive with the bat but his services would be sought highly at possibly the best Indian ground for batting. If he fires, Rohit can take it easy at the start.

And the world knows how dangerous Rohit becomes if he stays longer. In what is surely going to be another high scoring match, Mumbai Indians hope to tick this box. Otherwise they might have to give away another Man of the Match award for a losing cause.

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