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Why are Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard failing this season?

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Rohit Sharma’s Team Mumbai faltered against Team Punjab on April 23 as they had to endure their third defeat of the 2021 Indian T20 League season. Despite Rohit Sharma’s best effort, Mumbai could only muster 131/6 and were defeated by nine wickets.

Mumbai were sluggish right from the very beginning, scoring a mere 21 runs at a run rate of 3.50 before the it rose to 8.44 during the brief period of the middle overs (7-15 overs). 

However, it soon came down to 6.80 in the death overs (the final five overs), where the likes of Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi and Arshdeep Singh conceded just 34 runs while picking four wickets.

Quite interestingly, Mumbai’s middle-order consisting of Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya has faltered more often than not this season. During the last season of the Indian T20 League, Mumbai scored at a rate of 13.61 runs per over during the death overs, a figure that has dropped to 7.48 this season.

Mumbai’s death over collapse this season:

  • 34 runs against Punjab
  • 36 runs against Delhi
  • 32 runs against Bangalore

Now, one can easily blame the slow nature of the Chennai pitch, but keep in mind that this is the same surface where Bangalore have excelled upon this season. While Mumbai have failed to even touch the 160-run mark even once in Chennai, Bangalore have done it twice in three attempts. They, in fact, scored 204 against Kolkata on this very pitch.

On paper, Mumbai do have some prolific names in the middle order in West Indies’ Pollard and the Pandya brothers, but they have combined for just 150 runs across five Indian T20 League matches so far, which translates to a contribution of just 30 runs per match from the trio.

The tricky condition of Chepauk’s wicket means bowlers have found it easy to bowl against the trio. With the percentage of slower balls significantly increasing, the batsmen have to put the extra power to cross the rope and this has often resulted in them giving away wickets. 

Now, Mumbai’s unfamiliarity with this pitch can be one of the factors in their inability to score runs. Between 2016 and the start of the current season, Mumbai had played just two matches in Chepauk.

In any case though, one cannot take anything away from Punjab. Their bowlers picked one wicket in each of the last four overs while conceding a mere two boundaries and a six. Just two of the final five overs saw more than six runs being conceded. 

Shami, in particular, was fantastic to watch. The veteran Indian bowler picked both of his wickets in his final two overs.

Punjab welcomed their star spinner Ravi Bishnoi in the starting XI for the first time this season, and the result was evident. The youngster ended his tenure with figures of 2/21 and his victims were Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav. Note that this was Bishnoi’s third most economical spell in the Indian T20 League where he has bowled four overs.

Friday’s game against Punjab was Mumbai’s last game in Chennai as they now move to the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi; once again a pitch that has shown no significant pace in the past.

Featured photo: AFP / Sajjad Hussain

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