IPL 2022: Task cut out for Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians against table toppers Gujarat Titans

Among the reasons cited by Mumbai Indians for not retaining Hardik Pandya in the IPL retention window was issues with his fitness. Pandya did not bowl at all during IPL 2021, prompting Mumbai Indians not to hedge their bets on his fitness.

Whatever be the actual reason for his non-retention, the net gainer has been debutants Gujarat Titans, whom the Baroda allrounder has led to eight wins so far while contributing 309 runs in nine matches and taking four wickets. On Friday at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium, it will be an emotional moment for Pandya as the Titans, looking to get back to winning ways after their eight-wicket loss to Punjab Kings, lock horns with Mumbai Indians.

The latter will look to build on their solitary win against Rajasthan Royals in their last encounter. Mumbai’s problems stem from lack of runs from captain Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Keiron Pollard apart from the paucity of wickets from pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah. The latter has taken five scalps, three of them in a single match, in nine matches at an economy of 7.45.

The bowlers, as head coach Mahela Jayawardene highlighted in a pre-match virtual conference, have failed to dominate powerplay periods. “My debrief on the entire bowling this season has been that we haven’t been able to dominate the powerplay. It is unfair to point fingers at Bumrah because his role has been to create pressure. You can say he hasn’t picked up wickets but teams play the entire bowling unit and not just one bowler. So they (opposition) have covered Bumrah and made sure that they don’t take too many risks against him. Therefore he hasn’t been able to create opportunities,” he said.

Other bowlers — Basil Thampi, Jaydev Unadkat, Riley Meredith and Daniel Sams — have also failed to build pressure and take wickets regularly while lack of quality spinning options has forced the franchise to depend on nondescript players –Hrithik Shokeen and Kartikey Kumar.

On the other hand, collective performances have been the theme of Titans display in their maiden season. One of Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha, Pandya, David Miller or Rahul Tewatia has all played impact knocks. Mohammad Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Alzarri Joseph have provided the pace power and been among the wickets.