Mumbai Indians (MI) have played the last few games with a settled combination and looked a lot better as a unit than they did in the nascent stages of the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Playing with a settled and well-balanced playing XI has vastly improved their results and Mumbai have been utterly dominant in their last three outings.
The Indians began IPL 2016 without Lasith Malinga, one of their undisputed match-winners and the backbone of their bowling attack, and after just one game into their title defence, lost Lendl Simmons too, to a lower back injury. Without their ace fast bowler and arguably their best batsman of the last two seasons, the Mumbai think-tank had absolutely no clue over what their best playing XI was, at the start of the ongoing season. They kept tinkering with the combination from one game to another – a clear indication of the lack of clarity.
However, with Mitchell McClenaghan spearheading the attack and Tim Southee proving to be an able bowling partner for him, Mumbai’s bowling woes seem to be behind them for the moment. The usually reliable Harbhajan Singh has had a poor campaign so far and picked up just five wickets from nine outings. Jasprit Bumrah too, has not been at his lethal best, despite picking up 11 wickets and occupying the third place in the race for the Purple Cap. The unimpressive aspect about their bowling so far, has been the rate at which they have conceded runs – at more than eight runs-per-over.
In the batting department, Ambati Rayudu has been an important cog in the wheel for the Indians, having played many an important knock at the No. 3 position, where he has batted in the last six games. Rohit Sharma, the skipper, has been in scintillating form too in recent games, and was a pivotal figure in his side’s six-wicket and eight-wicket victories against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) respectively.
Mumbai, through their recovery from an abysmal start to the campaign, have given a clear demonstration of the nature of Twenty20 (T20) format, in which you need only a couple of your players to play to their potential for you to prosper. The defending IPL champions are on an extended break from action, which concludes this Sunday, when they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Match 37 of IPL 2016, at their makeshift home venue: Visakhapatnam District Cricket Association (VDCA).
In this article, we discuss if Parthiv Patel should be in the Mumbai Indians’ playing XI v SRH. Read on…
We place the spotlight on Parthiv because a majority of MI’s playing XI should pick itself against Sunrisers. As aforementioned, it is well-balanced, firstly, and secondly, you do not want to tinker too much with the winning combination.
With ‘PP’, which is how P Patel is called by his teammates, Mumbai enjoy a right-left batting combination at the top of their order. The Parthiv-Rohit opening partnership has, however, not delivered the goods for a majority of this season so far and Patel, in particular, has not got going with the bat at all.
In eight innings, Parthiv has garnered 176 runs at an average of 22.00. It includes a quite fortuitous 81 against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), as Mitchell Johnson bowled a no-ball and gave Patel a second life in that match – which he took full advantage of.
Apart from his 81 against KXIP, Parthiv has made just a couple of 20s and one 30 and those runs haven’t exactly been scored at a fair clip. The diminutive wicket-keeper batsman has a strike-rate of 120, which is not at all sufficient for an opening T20 batsman.
An even bigger problem with Parthiv than his low strike-rate, is his inability to rotate the strike and pick up the 1s and 2s when the boundaries are not forthcoming. In his tally of 176 runs – from 146 balls faced overall – a whopping 116 have come in boundaries.
The 31-year-old is not blessed with power and he is not quite effective when he struggles for timing. It has been a lose-lose situation for Mumbai, who have not been getting the starts they would like, and Parthiv’s failures are not helping the likes of Rohit and Rayudu – the two best MI batsmen currently – either.
There’s a readymade replacement for Parthiv in the Mumbai squad and he goes by the name Unmukt Chand. Like this season, Chand found it hard to break into Mumbai’s playing XI in their triumphant IPL 2015 campaign. His only substantial knock of 58 (37) against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) gave a glimpse of what he is capable of. Chand is another batsman who likes to dominate the bowling and can play all around the clock. He can self-destruct because of his inclination to go after the bowler on every ball he faces, but I have no doubt that he will take Mumbai to another level if given a chance.
With Parthiv struggling for form and not giving much to the team – remember, he is not a great keeper either – why not inject a young and a lot more dynamic batsman in his place? Mumbai’s upcoming fixture against SRH is an immensely significant one that both teams would want to win, as they both are vying for a place in the IPL playoffs. Mumbai cannot continue being overly reliant on Rohit and Rayudu, as it could have an adverse effect on this duo sooner or later.
Barring in one game, against KXIP, Parthiv has been unable to contribute to his team’s benefit. You can sympathise with him for his struggles, as there is no doubt that he will be working hard in the nets and Parthiv, generally, has been a cricketer who wants to do well and compete with the best. So, it’s a bit of a shame that he is not making the contributions he, or his team, would like. But, as is always the case, the team comes above everyone else. And, as Mumbai enter a pivotal stage of their IPL 2016 campaign, it’s important that they have all 11 players contributing to the team’s cause.