The loss of fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer to injuries left a hole that was difficult to fill for Mumbai Indians, coach Mark Boucher said after his team’s IPL exit.
The five-time winners went down to holders Gujarat Titans in the final playoff on Friday to bow out of the T20 competition they last won in 2020.
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On a batting-friendly pitch in Ahmedabad, Mumbai’s bowlers were at the receiving end of Shubman Gill’s 60-ball 129 which powered Gujarat to 233-3.
South African Boucher, in his first season with Mumbai, said the replacement players offered their best efforts but were still not good enough for a place in the final.
“If you are losing out on your quality players, yes it’s going to leave a hole,” Boucher told reporters after his team’s 62-run hammering.
“Not to put any blame on anyone, those things happen in sports, injuries happen in sports and you’ve got to deal with it.”
He added: “I thought that the guys that we brought in, they did their best in a situation where they probably weren’t selected upfront.”
The side, skippered by Rohit Sharma, were aware Bumrah would miss the season as the yorker specialist underwent lower-back surgery in March and has been out of action since September last year.
But the team suffered a major blow when England’s Archer, who was recovering from an elbow injury, left for home after playing just five matches, to be replaced by fellow countryman Chris Jordan.
Mumbai bought Archer for $1.06 million in last year’s auction despite the speedster not being available for the whole season.
Boucher, regarded as one of the world’s best wicketkeepers during his playing days, said Mumbai may have to replace some of the team down the line.
“Hopefully the guys can get over the injuries. If they can’t, then we’ve got to look other places,” said Boucher.
But he declined to point to individual names.
“There are so many things that we can talk about but for me to open up a can of worms now would be stupid,” he said.
“I think it’s time to just sit back, reflect a bit, take the emotion out of it and make some good, sound cricketing decisions once everything is calmed down and once we understand the future of certain individuals and where they are from a fitness perspective.”
Mumbai won the tournament under Rohit in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020 but followed their last title with two bad seasons, including a bottom-place finish in the 10-team table last year.
They brought in Australian all-rounder Cameron Green for $2.11 million in the auction, making him tournament’s second most expensive buy ever.
After a hot and cold group stage, Mumbai sneaked in to the final four and then hammered Lucknow Super Giants in a knockout match.
“To get to the playoffs is a good achievement,” said Boucher. “Obviously disappointed about tonight’s result but I thought we fought right the way till the end.”
Results in the Twenty20 tournament “can go either way”, he added. “So it’s quite a stressful competition.”