Throughout the group stage, the Mumbai Indians played a game of musical chairs with the second opener's spot, with as many as five players walking out with Sachin Tendulkar to start the innings.
The last edition's finalists boast of the most explosive middle-order in the competition and
Mumbai Indians batsman Sachin Tendulkar takes a run during the IPL Twenty20 match against Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
were banking on a solid foundation for the likes of Kieron Pollard and Andrew Symonds in the last five overs.
However, Mumbai managed just two over-50 run partnerships in the 14 outings and were mostly bailed out by one-down batsman Ambati Rayudu, who scored a couple of match-winning half-centuries.
Rayudu's form and excellent work by their bowlers, led by Lasith Malinga, was essentially responsible for Mumbai winning seven of their first nine games. They looked set to top the standings at that stage.
However, the batting failed to make an impact in the second half and the situation got so critical that they were not even certain of a knockout berth. Even chief coach Robin Singh admitted that the lack of a regular opening pair did hurt. "(Davy) Jabobs had started to come good when he hurt his thumb. That again put us on the back-foot," he said.
It is still unclear as to who will walk out with Tendulkar against the Knight Riders with the team management likely to take a final call only on the day of the match.