The Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians (MI) defied all ‘odds’ when they lifted the IPL trophy for the fifth time in the previous edition, held in the UAE. Having always won the championship in an odd year, MI even conquered the ‘even year’ and entered the IPL 2021 edition with all boxes checked.
Playing the season-opener versus perennial underachievers Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), the five-time winners and defending champions were expected to move past the RCB camp and start the new season with a bang. However, their opening game woes remained untouched for the Men in Blue as they have now lost their 9th successive opening game in the IPL since 2013.
Interestingly, MI have turned things around considerably since the 2013 edition itself — with five championships in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020 respectively — but haven’t managed to break the tradition of losing their opening fixture in a new IPL season. Defending only a modest 160 versus Kohli & Co., Rohit’s MI Paltan gave a tough fight before going down on the last ball to remain winless in their opening match in a row since 2013.
At the post-match presentation, Rohit stated, “That’s the most important thing I guess (to win tournaments). Not the first game. I thought it was a great effort.. great fight till the end. I thought we were 20 runs short with the kind of start we got. We made some mistakes in the first game, bound to happen.”
Rohit further reflected on the positives and said, “He’s (Marco Jansen) a talent we have identified to bowl in any situation. We wanted to get wickets when AB and Christian were batting, which is why we went with Bumrah and Boult, unfortunately it didn’t work. Definitely not an easy pitch to bat on. We need to identify the situations and get variations. AB was brilliant and got them home. In hindsight you can say it takes time to get intensity.”