In contrast to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), whose captain Pat Cummins alone secured the match, Mumbai Indians (MI) head coach Mahela Jayawardene expressed disappointment with his team’s poor start with the bat. KKR defeated MI by five wickets in Pune, securing the first position in the IPL 2022 standings. Cummins scored his joint-fastest IPL fifty in the process.
At one point, 140 seemed to be a difficult target to reach as Rohit Sharma’s men huffed and puffed their way to 98 for 3 after 16 overs. A “tricky” surface, in Jayawardene’s opinion, was a reason why the five-time IPL winners were unable to lift the ante even after a sluggish powerplay in which they were reduced to 35 for 1 after the first six overs of the game.
“It [the pitch] has a little bit of something in it. There is always a learning curve when playing with a new ball, as we saw in the previous two games that were played here as well,” Jayawardene said. “As a result, we understood we needed to be patient and avoid giving up too many wickets. I felt we did a good job of setting ourselves up, but I think we went a little behind in those first 10 overs, even after the powerplay, simply to get our bearings because we were losing wickets.”
In terms of the challenge, Jayawardene explained, “We’re playing in four different locations, so having four different surfaces to play on is always a nice thing. There’s something for the bowlers and something for the batsmen, and that’s the challenge that you want in the IPL,” he told reporters after the match.
An 83-run partnership between Suryakumar Yadav (52 off 36 balls) and Tilak Varma (38* off 27 balls) with a late cameo from Kieron Pollard (22* off 5) enabled MI to reach 161 for four. Surya, who was making his return from a finger injury, disclosed at the midway point of the match that they had devised a strategy for the next seven overs, which had been implemented flawlessly to that point.
When asked what his team’s strategy was during the 13th-over time-out, Jayawardene said that he wanted his batsmen to get acclimated to the pace of the pitch before attacking the KKR bowlers in the next overs. Not only that, but he didn’t want his batsmen to waste time with KKR’s frugal spin combo of Sunil Narine (0 for 26) and Varun Chakravarthy (1 for 32).
“We were aware that they have a plan in which they bowl their spinners towards the conclusion of the innings,” Jayawardene explained. “As a result, we wanted to make certain that we had men who were capable of facing them – Surya was one of them. However, it was a difficult situation, to begin with. There was a significant bounce. And we felt like we were trapped for a little while, and then we fell behind, and we needed to go back to par – which was the goal in the 13th over.
And with a couple of huge overs at the end, we were able to go to par and stay in the game for most of the way. And then, again, like the previous few games, we weren’t ruthless enough to finish things off,” the Sri Lankan legend said in answer to a Sportskeeda question.
KKR needed 35 runs off the last five overs to chase down 162 and earn their third victory in four games. But it only took six genuine deliveries for Pat Cummins (56* off 15) to make people’s jaws hit the floor. MI was defeated for the third time in a row as left-arm pacer Daniel Sams (1 for 50) was thrashed for 35 runs in the 16th over.
“Some of the execution has been bad,” Jayawardene admits Mumbai’s bowling difficulties
While the Mumbai Indians and sluggish beginnings to an IPL season are synonymous, the margin for error in a 10-team league would be minimal in this case as well. They are now ranked ninth in the standings, with a net run rate (NRR) that is higher than just the SunRisers Hyderabad.
Mahela Jayawardene emphasised the fact that the Mumbai-based team still has 11 more opportunities to redeem themselves, while also emphasising the need of finishing games with the ball. “It’s always difficult to get off from a bad start like this,” Jayawardene said. “The important thing is to look at the positives – we’ve been playing some very terrific cricket, It’s just that we haven’t been able to close off games. We were in the game for all three games, but we were unable to complete the victory. So there are worries, particularly with regards to the bowling, that we are not executing at the back end when we are under time constraints.”
Jayawardene continued, “Some of the execution has been sloppy, so we need to brush up on our skills there as well. Having lost three games [too many], it’s a long tournament, but we need to make sure we earn a victory and establish some positive habits to go on. And anything may happen, particularly when there are ten teams involved. There are a lot of teams that are going to beat each other up, so we have to make sure we’re still in it halfway through the season,” he said.
In their next match, against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), which will take place at the same location on Saturday, Rohit Sharma’s men will be looking to get off to a fast start. The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Delhi Capitals (DC) will square off at the Brabourne Stadium on Sunday afternoon.