For the third year in succession, Mumbai Indians is struggling in the first half of its Indian Premier League campaign. Four defeats in six games for the defending champion shows that it is yet to overcome the ‘starting trouble’ persistent since 2014. Looking back, Mumbai lost its first four matches in 2014 and the first five in 2015. Going by that piece of statistic, this season still appears a shade better for Mumbai. On Monday, Mumbai faces Kings XI Punjab, the only other team to lose four times this season.

Of the four defeats for Mumbai, the one against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday was sure to hurt the most. After controlling the match for the better part, the champion side messed up the chase despite the presence of in-form skipper Rohit Sharma in the middle. Overall, Mumbai’s batting appears suspect.

Currently placed sixth on the table, Mumbai is still in the hunt for the playoffs since a team can afford to lose six matches and still be in the top-four. Much like Mumbai, Kings XI is struggling to bat to its potential. Just one victory in five matches has pushed the host to the bottom of the table.

Flattering to deceive

It is really surprising that a side with an intimidating middle-order — Shaun Marsh, David Miller and Glenn Maxwell — is repeatedly failing to bat to its reputation. Even more mysterious is the single-over dismissals of Miller and Maxwell. Gujarat Lions’ Dwayne Bravo showed the way to get the duo out in the campaign-opener, Delhi’s Daredevils’ Amit Mishra followed it in the second match and Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Moises Henrique proved on Saturday night that the pair had not put a price-tag on their wickets.

A team that boasts of flamboyant openers such as M. Vijay and Manan Vohra, followed by the big names in the middle-order in the form of Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel, Kings XI’s strength clearly lies in its batting. But so far inconsistency is the only consistent factor for Kings XI. As things stand, when two inconsistent teams clash on Monday, one is sure to get its act right.