Mumbai Indians are known to be late bloomers of the Indian Premier League (IPL). In their last couple of seasons, they have hit the peak of their performance towards the business end of the tournament to sneak into the knockouts.
Irrespective of how the season pans out for Mumbai Indians in IPL 10, skipper Rohit Sharma will be determined to end their opening-game blues as they take on Rising Pune Supergiant in their opening encounter --- the Maharashtra derby --- at the MCA Stadium here on Thursday.
Starting on a winning note would be crucial for MI as they have now faced defeats in opening clashes of the last four IPL editions.
In 2013 IPL, MI lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore by two runs in a thriller at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. They, however, went on to win the title for the first time that year.
In the 2014 edition, Kolkata Knight Riders comprehensively beat MI in Abu Dhabi. It was Kolkata Knight Riders again who beat Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens in the 2015 season.
In the last IPL, Mumbai Indians went down to Rising Pune Supergiant in a lop-sided affair at the Wankhede Stadium.
Mumbai Indians’ opening-match blues have had a bearing on the way their season has panned out. Although Rohit & Co managed to win the IPL title in 2015, courtesy a dramatic change of fortunes towards the end, Mumbai Indians had managed to win just one game in their first six encounters.
In 2014 when the first half of the IPL was shifted to the UAE, Mumbai Indians failed to register a win from their five matches in the gulf.
The gruelling schedule is another concern for MI, who will play their first eight games in a span of 18 days which includes travel time.
MI skipper Rohit wants to break it into parts. “We have to break it into parts and the first few games we want to start really well; we are actually focusing on the first few games. The first opposition for us is Pune in Pune. They have a pretty exciting squad, some new faces in them. So, yes, Mahela (Jayawardene) and Shane Bond (bowling coach), they have working on their bowling and batting lineups. We have to break it into parts and see where we stand,” Rohit had said in his first press conference.
Overall, in the last couple of seasons, Mumbai Indians have been plagued by inconsistency and figuring out the right balance in the playing XI. It remains to be seen if the MI think-tank under new coach Jayawardene is able to crack the right combination code early on in the tournament.
Rising Pune Supergiant, who finished seventh in their debut season last year, have completely overhauled their squad this time and also took the big decision to replace MS Dhoni with Steven Smith as the leader.
In the auction, Pune went all out to hire England all-rounder Ben Stokes to add firepower in batting and bowling departments.