Looking to banish starting troubles


There is an interesting statistic that sums up Mumbai Indians' journey in the tournament across editions. Spoilt for choices or call it being impatient, Mumbai have tried out 25 batsmen for the opening slot in the last six seasons — with Sachin Tendulkar being the only constant at the top.

The latest one to join Tendulkar on Thursday was none other than Ricky Ponting. The Australian, captaining Mumbai this season, decided to have a go at it himself and made it a sort of dream pairing.

That combination is something else -- with the two legends opening the innings together -- but is it the right one for Mumbai?

Across all formats, between them, Tendulkar and Ponting have a staggering 61,756 runs and 171 hundreds in international cricket. And Thursday was a sight to behold as the two masters exchanged notes and punched gloves during their 52run stand against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

It is too early to say this season if the two, who are past their prime, can solve Mumbai's starting trouble. However, that can only be known if Mumbai allow them to settle down and Ponting gets accustomed to his new role; unlike in the past where they have tinkered too often.

After their two-run loss in their season opener on Thursday, the former Australian skipper admitted that finding a perfect opening combination was a concern for Mumbai, but hinted he and Tendulkar remain the best option.

"Sachin's run out wasn't ideal for us at that stage. We were both just looking to really accelerate but found it hard to hit boundaries after the spinners came on. But we'll wait and see how the next games pan out," said Ponting.

"We will talk about a lot of things that have come out from the first game, but we've got to Against RCB, Mumbai also left it for too late. Though they had seven wickets in hand, they couldn't quite cross the line. One of the batsmen who was left to cool his heels till the 20th over was Keiron Pollard.

The big all-rounder, like his West Indies counterpart Chris Gayle, can be destructive with the bat but Mumbai has failed to make full use of his ability.

When he came to the crease, Mumbai needed 10 off 5 balls. Though he hit a four to bring it down to 4 off 1, Pollard hadn't spent enough time to seal the contest.

It is, however, nothing new. In the 2010 final against CSK, Pollard arrived at the crease at No. 8, after most of his teammates had wasted deliveries while chasing 168. CSK went on to win their maiden title and added a second the next year. But Mumbai are yet to end the drought.

Running into the same opponent, Mumbai would do well to give their openers and Pollard a longer run. If that does click, it will go a long way in Mumbai realising their title dream.

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