IPL 2021: Middle-order not firing is the problem, Zaheer Khan sums up MI’s poor run of form in UAE-leg

MI's middle-order has failed to step up to the plate | BCCI/IPL

Mumbai Indians (MI) are having a tough time in the second phase of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 in UAE. They have suffered defeats in all three games so far, with the latest one coming against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Dubai on Sunday (September 26).

Chasing 166 to win, MI got off to a terrific start as the duo of skipper Rohit Sharma (43) and Quinton de Kock (24) added 57 runs for the opening wicket.

But once they got out, Mumbai’s batting line-up crumbled big time. No one managed to touch the double-digit mark and the innings eventually folded for 111 in 18.1 overs.

Speaking after the game, MI’s director of cricket operations, Zaheer Khan, said that the failure of the team’s middle-order in the last three IPL matches has put a lot of pressure on the defending champions.

“I think the wicket was just fine, you can make out from how the team batting first went and how we started. I think it is just the form-based situation for us, you know the middle-order has not really fired for us in these last three games and that has put a lot of pressure,” Zaheer said in the post-match press conference.

“So losing wickets after getting that kind of start is never going to help you recover,” he added.

For RCB, Harshal Patel claimed a hat-trick and returned with the figures of 4/17 in his 3.1 overs while Yuzvendra Chahal (3/11) and Glenn Maxwell (2/23) also dented MI with the ball.

Hailing the hat-trick hero Harshal, Zaheer said: “He has got the hat-trick, so the man should be on the moon. Bowled very well, his slower one is something, which has become a trend for this IPL and he is having a fantastic season.”

With 6 losses from 10 games, Mumbai Indians are languishing at the seventh position on the IPL 2021 points table but Zaheer Khan feels that the five-time champions have bounced back in the past and they can do it again.

“Well, we don’t have that much time right now, we will have to really get things moving very fast, it is going to be must-win games for us coming up, so it is very important that the team sticks together and brings whatever it takes to win games of cricket.

“I think that hunger is going to be very important, that determination is going to be very important for us going forward and we got to believe it, this team has done it in the past, so there is no reason why we can’t do it,” said Zaheer.

“The way MI is known in terms of showing dominance and playing cricket, that aggressive nature of cricket, so far we have not seen,” he lamented.

According to the former India pacer, the team has played good cricket but only in patches.

“Well, I think, you know, we have not been able to get ourselves going, as simple as it gets. You got to have 40 good overs of cricket, you got to play good cricket throughout those 40 overs, to win games of cricket.

“So, we have been playing well in patches, and not really able to sustain it and that has been the case so far,” he remarked.