Despite Brilliant Bumrah, Mumbai flop out of IPL 2024 – Five reasons why


The team owners were seen smiling and the franchise’s iconic face was in the dugout. These happy snapshots did not go with the performance of Mumbai Indians. Officially out of playoff contention, this is the third time in four years that they have finished outside the playoff bracket after winning a fifth title in 2020.

The most successful Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise – jointly with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) – MI looked like building their own legacy. They were doing it in style. Coming back from a chain of losses, holding nerves in a low-scoring final (2017), unearthing uncapped talent and getting the best out of stars — they ticked a range of boxes. MI’s bull run under Rohit Sharma made him the India captain.

When comparisons began with the CSK model of sustained excellence, the monument started to collapse. Playoffs in 2023 and fifth in 2021 were not disasters, but last of 10 teams in 2022 and another bottom place looming in 2024 are way below the standards they had set. Starting 2021, they have lost 32 of 55 games — a defeat percentage of 58.18. Leaving out 2023, this balloons to 64.10.

Pandya not cool in hot seat

Failure of the mega-project of reviving fortunes with a new skipper makes this edition different. Hardik Pandya doesn’t become a bad leader because of this, after taking Gujarat Titans to two finals and a title in his first two years as an IPL captain. But because he replaced Rohit who remains the India skipper, Pandya also comes under the scanner.

Pandya endured his worst season as a player. He was inconsistent with the bat and the few cameos he sneaked in made no lasting impact. His bowling was forgettable. A booing Wankhede didn’t make him feel at home and Pandya didn’t help his cause by publicly criticising Tilak Varma after a defeat. Captains usually keep such remarks for the dressing room.


No fun run for batting unit

This has been a high-scoring IPL and the MI batters had no fun. Varma was consistent and Suryakumar Yadav destructive almost every second match. The rest had no fizz. Rohit, Ishan Kishan and Hardik were nowhere near what they had been, while Nehal Wadhera and Naman Dhir showed they have some way to go.

Power in the lower middle order used to be a feature of this team. After Kieron Pollard, they have not had another player to make that telling a difference. Tim David sent the ball miles, but often fought a lone battle. In a high-scoring season, they crossed 200 batting first once. In 11 games, there are three totals below 150.

All Bumrah and nobody else

How often does the alpha bowler see his team placed last? Jasprit Bumrah, the Purple Cap holder, is bowling the best that he has in three-four years. Forget hitting, batters have struggled to make a connection. However, unlike the past, Bumrah has not had support from his fellow fast bowlers.

This is not an MI trait. They always had a Mitchell Johnson to go with a Lasith Malinga, a Trent Boult with a Johnson or a Bumrah with a Boult. There were others as well. This fast bowling unit pales in comparison. Gerald Coetzee took wickets but went for plenty. Nuwan Thushara fared no better.

Spin has not always been their strongest suit, but this department was seldom so weak. Past his sell-by date, Piyush Chawla was the lead spinner and he did anything but a star turn. Mohammad Nabi failed to take wickets. Shreyas Gopal and Shams Mulani played only a handful of games. The overall weakness of the MI attack is highlighted by two 250-plus totals against them.

Shortage of uncapped talent

Scouting talent is something in which MI outscored most other teams. From Bumrah to the Pandya brothers to Varma — they were the pioneers in discovering raw talent. That flow seems to have subsided. They are giving new players responsibility, but the youngsters are yet to prove themselves.

Strange foreign policy

MI also suffered because of their foreigner selection. They chose a combination with no overseas pro as a specialist batter. South African Dewald Brevis got two games at No. 4. Otherwise, MI mostly had Indians occupying the top seven slots. When every team profited from batting imports, they drew a blank on that front.

MI had tasted disappointment in the past. The difference between then and now is, they are experiencing it after having won the trophy five times. Stalwarts to commoners is a big fall. Don’t be surprised if this leads to key personnel changes.