The Tale of the Beleaguered Champions – Mumbai Indians

With three defeats in as many games, the IPL 2024 journey of the champions seems uncertain, most likely.

Mumbai Indians – The Champion Team in Danger

Homecoming is indeed a beautiful experience for everyone, where you revisit the memories created in your own space – the place you call your home. But homecoming wasn’t too pleasing for the five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians. Their happy homecoming journey was cut short by the jubilant Rajasthan Royals as they thrashed the local boys by six wickets in an Indian Premier League 2024 encounter.

The IPL 2024 saw the domination of the home teams where the teams playing at their home grounds emerged victorious in the first 12-13 games. This went on until the Kolkata Knight Riders wrecked through the Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the Chinnaswamy. The Delhi Capitals then restarted the home team supremacy, and the same was expected from the Mumbai Indians since they were playing at the Wankhede.

But did that happen? Not quite. The not-favorites Rajasthan Royals wreaked havoc on the home team and took away an almost easy win. But what happened to Mumbai Indians, a team that is known to decimate the opposition regardless of home-ground advantage or away disadvantage? Let’s find out.

Trent Boult Messes Up The Mumbai Indians in the Powerplay

Following the trend, the Royals’ captain Sanju Samson went on to bowl first when the coin was tossed in his favor. And his bowlers just did what the captain would have expected from them. 

His ace bowler, the New Zealand pace spearhead Trent Boult, was the pick of the bowlers. He went through the top order of the Mumbai Indians like a strong gush of wind. The Indians’ top order, something that had the only hope of light in an otherwise underperforming lineup, fell like a pack of cards.

The Mumbai Indians management had one task to do, revisit their bowling woes and come out with a better plan against the neutral opponents in the name of Rajasthan Royals. But Boult came out of the syllabus for them, picking up the star batsman Rohit Sharma and Naman Dhir in the first over itself, both going for golden ducks.

What was interesting is that the booing crowd followed Hardik “Captain” Pandya from Hyderabad, chanting “Hamara Captain Kaisa Ho, Rohit Sharma Jaisa Ho” (How should our captain be? Just like Rohit Sharma) and “Rohit, Rohit, Rohit” now and then. However, Rohit’s golden duck innings was no cause for their celebrations.

The Heel Captain to the Rescue?

Indeed, though briefly. The MI captain didn’t quite start as the favorite player with the crowd booing him heavily at the toss. Such was the extent of their displeasure that the host Sanjay Manjrekar had to make a rather awkward intervention and ask the home crowd to “behave”.

But the captain was the star of the batting lineup after the top-order collapsed to the pace of the Royals. He walked out to bat in the fourth over, and hit some breezy shots, occasionally attracting claps from the till-then-hating home fans.

But once he was gone, the rest followed him like a herd of sheep following their leader. Boult, Nandre Burger, Yuzvendra Chahal, each one of them demolishing the Mumbai Indians batting order.

What’s Wrong with the Star-Studded Champions?

Unarguably, the IPL 2024 journey has not been what the Mumbai Indians would have expected. Losing three out of as many games and languishing down at the bottom of the table surely isn’t what the team would have aimed for. But such is the luck of the champions, they have faltered in every aspect of the game. 

For the first two games, their bowling let them down while the batting order was still clicking. And when the management might have come down with a better bowling plan, the batsmen left nothing as such to be implemented. 

Mumbai Indians have always been slow starters, where once they lost seven in a row to come back and win the next four. But this time, the team morale doesn’t look to be too high. While they are still missing the star batsman Suryakumar Yadav in the middle, there is no such certainty as to when he will be available to play. 

What’s Next for the Champions?

The Mumbai Indians have, arguably though, lacked in both the bowling and batting department to date. They will look to address these areas and bounce back stronger when they face the formidable Delhi Capitals once again at their home ground on 7th April 2024. Will the underperforming champions be able to turn their sour homecoming into a rather sweet one? That’s something to watch as of now!

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