Enduring their worst season in a long time, the five-time champions need to quickly recover from their 54-run thrashing at the hands of RCB — their third defeat on the trot — and find that missing spark when they take on the unpredictable Punjab Kings (PBKS) in Abu Dhabi.
POINTS TABLE | SCHEDULE & RESULTS
With as many as four teams — MI, PBKS, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals — all having logged eight points each, the task for them from is simple: In order to book a playoffs berth, they need to win their remaining four matches.
Another loss for either of these teams will result in them being almost out of the race.
At the heart of the defending champions’ problems is a malaise which may worry the decision-makers in Indian cricket.
After a rousing show in the previous IPL that ensured both Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan a ticket to the Indian team, the explosive middle-order batsmen are struggling for every run.
Yadav has scored 189 runs in 10 games at an average of 18.90, while Kishan has had a horrendous run, only managing 107 runs in eight games, averaging 13.37.
Against RCB, Kishan was dismissed for 9, and Yadav 7. Against a bowling attack which has the experienced Mohammed Shami and talented youngsters in Arshadeep Singh and Ravi Bishnoi, finding form won’t be easy.
Like Yadav and Kishan, all-rounder Krunal Pandya was in top form for MI last year, but has struggled this time, managing scores of 4, 12 and 5 in his last three games. With the ball, he has given away 79 runs and failed to pick up a wicket.
In their last two games, openers Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock ensured that MI got superb starts of 78 and 57, but the failure of the middle-order has seen that effort go in vain.
On Sunday, after MI lost to RCB, MI’s director of cricket operations, Zaheer Khan admitted that the middle-order was putting them under “a lot of pressure”.
“It is a form-based situation. The middle-order has not really fired in these last three games and that has put a lot of pressure. Losing wickets after getting starts is never going to help,” he said.