It is testament to Mumbai Indians’ reputation that despite suffering five losses in seven games, and playing Royal Challengers Bangalore away from home on Tuesday, May 1, they have still not been counted out of the race to the IPL 2018 crown.
Mumbai have made a habit of it, after all. For most of their 11 seasons, Mumbai have started poorly, before putting together a string of wins to surge into the playoffs. Thereafter, they are a real threat – with three titles so far, they are IPL’s most successful side.
So far this season, Mumbai’s losses, mostly, have been close-calls, with matches taken into the dying stages of the final over. Their only big loss came against Sunrisers Hyderabad a week back, but they followed it up with a resounding eight-wicket win against Chennai Super Kings – current table-toppers – in their last outing.
Suryakumar Yadav, the opener, spoke of what the mood in the camp was in the early stages of the tournament, when Mumbai kept falling just short.
“We kept things pretty simple instead of complicating it,” he said on the eve of the clash against Bangalore. “This is a format in which we all go out there and express ourselves. The team that plays well wins the game. But the talks were all positive because the tournament was not over. We took it in our stride rather than sulking.
“I think we played our ‘A’ game in the last game and we are looking at taking the momentum from here. We won’t look back.”
In that regard, the win against Chennai was a confidence booster. The IPL is in its halfway stage now, and Mumbai know a run of wins from here could yet seal them a playoff spot.
“Considering the start we had, it (Chennai) was a very important win for us,” said Yadav. “To beat the best team in the tournament while coming into the second half of the tournament, it’s important we take the momentum forward. We have already forgotten about the losses. It’s good that we are coming here with a win and we have a lot to achieve in the tournament later.”
Mumbai have had the wood over Bangalore in their meetings over the years. In 24 clashes, Mumbai have won 16 times. But none of that matters, said Yadav.
“What has gone has gone completely. MI have beaten RCB before … it’s all history now,” he said. “Most important thing now will be what we do on the game day, how we start. Even they have lost a few games (this season) but that is gone as well. The team which we play tomorrow will be completely different on the field and it will be a great game. We will be raring to go. And those two points will be crucial for us as well.”
For all the talk of Mumbai being late-comers to the tournament, there have been occasions when Bangalore too have started poorly, only to string on a series of wins – they did so in 2016 when they lost to Hyderabad in the final.
Both teams have played seven matches, and there are as many games left in the league stages. The time is now to make something of their sputtering campaigns.