What has happened to the Mumbai Indians?

Mumbai Indians IPL - 2022

Mumbai Indians put forward a shockingly poor performance in the 2022 IPL season just two years removed from winning a record-breaking fifth title. Rohit Sharma’s men were outstanding in 2019 and 2020, becoming only the third team in the history of the competition to win successive titles. However, the franchise has taken a significant step back since their monumental triumph over Delhi Capitals in the 2020 finals. The Indians failed to progress out of the group stage in 2021, and have now plummeted to the foot of the standings after winning only four of their 14 matches in the 2022 term.

It has been a humbling fall from grace for the winningest franchise in the IPL, and the road back to the top appears to be far from straightforward. Their rivalry with Chennai Super Kings has defined the modern IPL, but both teams now have to admit failures after disappointing 2022 seasons to get back to winning ways.

The decline of the Indians’ form coincided with the appointment of Sharma as India’s Test and ODI skipper to replace Virat Kohli. Sharma has been a model of consistency in the IPL since the inaugural campaign in 2008, but the last campaign was his worst of the 14 seasons. He scored only 268 runs in 14 matches with an average of 19.14, hardly the form expected of one of the premier T20 batsmen in the sport.

Even when Sharma was not at the peak of his powers with the bat, his decision-making was spot on, none more so than his faith in Lasith Malinga in the 2019 finals when he backed the Sri Lanka international to bounce back from a tough penultimate over to bowl Mumbai to victory in the 20th over. His hand has been weakened somewhat by key departures, which has made the captaincy in the field a difficult proposition.

The exceptional Jasprit Bumrah remains in the ranks, but the options outside of the India bowler have dwindled. Malinga retired from the game in 2021, while Trent Boult was signed by the Rajasthan Royals in the 2022 Super Auction. Hardik Pandya too was optioned by Gujarat Titans, robbing the Indians of a potential successor to Sharma in the leadership role. Quinton de Kock’s loss has also proven to be a costly one for the Indians as he has gone from strength to strength with Pandya at the Titans.

Despite their losses, the Indians were expected to challenge for the 2022 crown by the best cricket betting sites in India, such as Neo.bet, who believed before the tournament that Mumbai was one of the top contenders for a sixth title. However, given their performance in the campaign, it would be stunning if they were to be viewed in the same slight again in 2023, with improvements required across the board to the depth of the squad and for underperforming players.

Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma were solid performers, with Kishan leading the way with 418 runs. Support around them was not forthcoming as Daniel Sams, Tim David and Kieron Pollard all failed to fire. Mumbai also took a gamble on highly-rated South African youngster Dewald Brevis, who put himself on the map in the Under-19 World Cup, but fizzled out in the IPL. The 19-year-old has a lot of talent and will be a hope for the future after earning comparisons to AB de Villiers.

The Indians were exposed without Jofra Archer due to injury after spending a significant sum to secure his services in the IPL Auction. The England fast bowler’s future looks far from certain, leaving the Indians with a huge decision regarding his future. Riley Meredith, Tymal Mills and Jaydev Unadkat failed to fill the void, while the spin options flattered to deceive, leaving Bumrah fighting a lone battle with the ball. It must be addressed in the future for the Indians to return to the top of the competition.

Mumbai has taken quite a fall from the top of the IPL over the last two years, and Sharma and the team’s hierarchy face major challenges to get them back on course as a title contender.

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