Mumbai Indians had built a thin bowling attack in the mega-auction, contrary to how they had gone in the previous season with some match-winners. This year, though, they failed to build a solid attack around spearhead speedster Jasprit Bumrah.
They roped in Tymal Mills, Daniel Sams, and Riley Meredith – all decent in T20 cricket but all of whom have had poor numbers in their previous IPL stints. Their Indian pace attack has bowlers who are either inexperienced – Basil Thampi – or not good enough at the IPL level – Jaydev Unadkat – in recent years.
MI skipper Rohit Sharma and management were criticised when ace fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah didn’t bowl in the first two overs in their last game against Punjab Kings.
Once again, versus Lucknow Super Giants, MI didn’t open with Bumrah; in fact, the first three overs, respectively, were bowled by off-spinner Tilak Varma, left-armer Unadkat, and leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin before Bumrah was introduced in the fourth over in which he conceded just three runs as KL Rahul played him out cautiously while attacking others. Bumrah’s second over of the innings came in the 12th over and third in the 16th over.
Like many fans, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, speaking in the commentary, was left unimpressed by Rohit Sharma not giving Bumrah the new ball where he could be menacing and stands a good chance to take a wicket when the when the white ball swings only for the first 2-3 overs.
Yes, this seems a strange call to not have Bumrah – arguably the best white-ball bowler currently – bowl with the new ball, but MI have been forced to use this tactic this season because of the toothlessness and inefficacy of other pacers in their attack.
For example, just compare MI’s 2020 bowling attack with the current one: Trent Boult, James Pattinson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Pandya brother; Sams, Unadkat, Thampi, Murugan Ashwin and they have had to resort to bowling the likes of Dewald Brevis, Tilak Varma and Pollard.
MI clearly are not where they used to be. So, it feels that bowling other bowlers than Bumrah with the new ball is much of trying to get their overs out when the batsmen are new and looking to get their eye in instead of looking for wickets, which should have been the case with Bumrah.
While in the past two seasons, they had Boult as a bank for two to three overs in the powerplay, they have nobody with that kind of incisiveness this season.
MI are trying to cling on to the game in the powerplay, and aiming to make inroads with Jasprit Bumrah in the middle overs.
They have amongst the worst death and middle-overs bowling economy this season. and Hence, they want to keep Jasprit Bumrah for the middle-overs where they feel their other bowlers could be lesser threatening than they’d be in the powerplay.
What a tight over or two from Bumrah also does is create pressure on the batters, who then could be dismissed trying to hit out at the other bowlers, who are helped by having five fielders at the boundary line after the powerplay.
This cat and mouse game, though, on most occasions hurt MI as their bowlers barring Jasprit Bumrah, and to some extent Murugan, have been taken to the cleaners. As this season seems to have gone out of their hands, they will hope to have Jofra Archer fit for next season.