There have been as many as 36 200-plus totals in IPL 2023. Mumbai Indians have been at the receiving end of six such scores. Three of those totals came on batting-friendly wickets at the Wankhede stadium, while MI also emerged victorious in three 200-plus chases. But the fact remains that the five-time champions lacked the fire-power in the bowling department with Jasprit Bumrah being absent for the entire tournament and Jofra Archer featuring in only five matches.
After losing their opening two games, they did come back well in the competition and got through to the playoffs by winning four of their last five games in the league stage, with Gujarat Titans doing them a favour by defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore. But their journey ended in Qualifier 2 after the Titans came up with a belligerent batting display, led by Shubman Gill’s third hundred of the IPL season.
While ruing the absence of their key pacemen, MI’s head coach Mark Boucher said the team tried to make do with the options at their disposal. “You can look at Bumrah not being available, Jofra not being available, they are quality players. If you are losing out on your quality players, yes it’s going to leave a hole. Not to put any blame on anyone, those things happen in sports, injuries happen in sports and you’ve got to deal with it.
“I thought that the guys that we brought in, they did their best in a situation where they probably weren’t selected upfront. So they were brought into the competition maybe a little bit out of season for them. To lose two players like that, that was difficult but we gave our best and we weren’t good enough,” said Boucher.
Going forward, Boucher insisted that the team management might have to take some tough decisions based on the fitness of the players. “You lose two of your stars in the bowling line-up, it’s going to create a couple of holes and we tried to fix it up as best as possible. Hopefully the guys can get over the injuries. If they can’t, then we’ve got to look other places.
“There are so many things that we can talk about but for me to open up a can of worms now would be stupid. I think it’s time to just sit back, reflect a bit, take the emotion out of it and make some good, sound cricketing decisions once everything is calmed down and once we understand the future of certain individuals and where they are from a fitness perspective.”
Boucher defended the bowlers and said they showed a lot of improvement as the competition wore on but also said the slew of 200-plus scores against his team did dent the confidence of the bowlers.
“The bowlers, I think you have to look at it from a different perspective. If you have a look at the totals that were scored at Wankhede and chased down, sometimes you can look at the figures and say our bowlers were going for a lot of runs. And yes, there were certain games where we could have bowled a little bit better. We’ve got quite an inexperienced bowling line-up. But we had some good chats and I think we improved as the competition went along.
“But to look at it just because we went over 200, we also chased a lot of scores over 200. So anyone who comes to Wankhede will know that it is very much a batting-friendly pitch and ground. I feel sorry for the bowlers at times, going for scores over 200 can dent your confidence a bit, which probably did to a couple of our bowlers. But we were chasing scores down of 200-plus. So you have to look at it in a different context,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking about his maiden IPL campaign as the head coach, Boucher said: The experience has been fantastic, I’ve really enjoyed it. (We’ve) got a good group of guys in the dressing room, support staff has been great as well, lots of experience. It’s a very tough competition, takes a lot to win a game of cricket, there are a lot of good teams that you come up against. So the results can go either way. So it’s quite a stressful competition. But in saying that, to get to the playoffs is a good achievement. Obviously disappointed about tonight’s result but I thought we fought right the way till the end.”