IPL: Mumbai Indians’ sluggish start a continuing trend

For the defending champions Mumbai Indians, the season got off on a familiar note: with a loss in the opening encounter. Saturday’s humiliating loss against debutants Rising Pune Supergiants was Mumbai Indians’ fourth successive loss, and fifth overall, in its first games of the IPL.

Mumbai Indians lost to Rising Pune Supergiants by nine wickets on Saturday.   -  Vivek Bendre

With the addition of two new teams in place of two former champions, the Indian Premier League’s ninth season is for different. But for the defending champions Mumbai Indians, the season got off on a familiar note: with a loss in the opening encounter.

Saturday’s humiliating loss against debutants Rising Pune Supergiants was Mumbai Indians’ fourth successive loss, and fifth overall, in its first games of the IPL. As much as its players’ lacklustre performance, what would concern the Mumbai Indians fans and management is events from the past.

Of the four previous seasons when it lost the opening game, thrice did Mumbai Indians struggle to open its account. It suffered four losses in the inaugural IPL season in 2008 before notching a win, while in the last two seasons, Rohit Sharma’s men lost five and three games up front.

'We tried our best'

Harbhajan Singh, the first captain of Mumbai Indians and who has been a vital cog in each of its nine IPL campaigns, struggled to point out the reason for the team’s slow start. “I don’t know, I wish I knew the reason,” said Harbhajan, whose unbeaten 30-ball 45 helped Mumbai Indians put on a three-digit total.

“We would have liked to win our first game and start on a good note, but it’s a game where you can only give 110 or 120 per cent; the result is not in our control. We tried our best and hopefully from the next game onwards, we will start playing better cricket and will get the results that we are looking for.”

In 2014, Mumbai Indians had returned from the United Arab Emirates with five losses in as many games. Still, it bounced back and made it to the Playoffs, winning seven of the remaining nine games. Even last year, when it bagged its second trophy, the most expensive of the original eight franchises had to wait for the fourth game to register a victory.

Harbhajan hoped the new campaign doesn’t turn out to be as tumultuous. “Hopefully it won’t be like (losing) first five games. Mumbai Indians don’t play well and then suddenly we wake up and start playing good cricket. Hopefully things will change from Kolkata.”

If Mumbai Indians shows up against Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday the way it did on Saturday, its wait for points could turn out to be as long as the last two seasons.