Mumbai Indians’ run in the league stage of Indian Premier League 2023 stayed true to the overall theme of the season. Just as IPL 2023 will be remembered for teams turning matches around in thrilling comebacks, Rohit Sharma and Co managed to sneak into the playoffs with a massive turnaround in the second half of their campaign.
For the longest time, it seemed MI were destined to be knocked out of the competition early again. In fact, it started as early as two games into the season when many began wondering if MI had enough resources. Having finished last in the previous season, the five-time IPL champions were struggling with Jasprit Bumrah unavailable and Jofra Archer injured after the opening match.
In the first half of the season, MI won just three out of seven games and remained in the bottom half of the table. Their big guns weren’t firing enough and a playoff spot seemed to be a distant dream. However, as they had done on more than one occasion in the past, the most successful franchise in the competition found a way to bounce back.
Mumbai won five of their last seven games to edge out Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the race to the playoffs. A few of their established names did the heavy lifting but unlike most of the other teams, they found impact performances from a number of players in their squad.
All things considered, MI’s bowling attack has punched above its weight this season. Bumrah and Archer were meant to form a dream bowling pair and MI’s attack for supposed to center around them. But while the Indian was ruled out of the entire season, the English pacer featured in just five games before getting sidelined again. Despite these huge losses, though, MI hustled and did the best they could with what they had.
Mumbai were the team that leaked the most number of runs (2592) in the league stage. They conceded an average total of 185.14 across the 14 matches and were taken for 200-plus totals five times. Even so, with the inexperienced resources they had at their disposal, it perhaps wouldn’t be unfair to say that MI did a decent job with the ball. On six occasions, they did enough to restrict the opposition to totals their batting lineup could chase.
Of course, there’s no denying that it was Mumbai’s batting, led by the irresistible Suryakumar Yadav, that got them over the line. Heading into the season, on paper, they had one of the strongest batting lineups. But it took a while for things to fall into place.
Rohit and Ishan Kishan simply didn’t do enough at the top of the order initially and Surya, their X-factor, took his time to turn around the lean patch he was suffering. But once they were pushed into a corner, MI’s batters got into the groove and emerged as the intimidating unit they were expected to be. Mumbai ended up scoring 200 runs or more to complete a chase as many as four times.
Cameron Green’s runs, especially his all-important ton in MI’s last league game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, were crucial throughout and his Australian compatriot Tim David delivered important cameos too. Left-handers Tilak Varma and Nehal Wadhera also played their part in the middle order.
But it was Surya who was the backbone. The top-ranked T20I batter in the world had scores of 55 (29), 66 (31), 83 (35), 103* (49) and 25* (16) in the five wins that MI registered in the second half of the league stage. In the form that he is in these days, the right-hander’s presence gives MI a massive edge over every other team.
Mumbai had to rely on Gujarat Titans beating RCB in order to qualify. After their last win against SRH, still not knowing if his team will make it, skipper Rohit provided an honest assessment of their campaign.
“We did a lot of things right,” he said. “We didn’t start well but then won three on the trot, so things came along nicely after that. If I have to look back, there were a lot of crucial moments that we lost. But honestly, you can’t look much into that. I’m pretty sure that the guys want to do their best at all times.”
As MI’s leader, Rohit has always thrived by giving that sense of freedom to his players. Heading into their Eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants, Mumbai Indians would be in a much more confident space than they were a few weeks ago. Although their squad is a lot different than it used to be, MI as a franchise know how to win and will be determined to complete their chase of a record-extending sixth IPL title.