Mumbai: Not depending on specific individuals and handling the pressure situations with aplomb has been key to Mumbai Indians’ Play-off journey, an elated skipper Rohit Sharma said.
Mumbai Indians sealed their place in the Play-offs with a Super Over win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. They still have a game in hand. “It’s a good positive for us to qualify with one game to spare. In 2017, when we won the trophy, we qualified with two games in hand. As a team what we have done well is that we have handled the pressure situations well,” said Rohit.
“A lot guys have put their hand up and taken the responsibility which is why we don’t have anyone, barring Quinton (de Kock), in the top five (of the highet run scorers). It’s not about one or two individuals. If you want to win the tournament everyone needs to do well. That’s the hallmark of this team, whether it is (leggie) Rahul Chahar or Quinton. We don’t believe in individuals to win the game on their own. We want everyone to chip in and take us over the line,” he elaborated.
Rohit said the eight overs of spin bowling done in tandem by left arm Krunal Pandya (2-22) and Chahar (0 for 21) did the trick in stopping SRH from winning the game. “They understand the conditions really well. Vijay (Shankar) and Manish Pandey were batting and they kept varying the length. Their eight overs were probably the turning point. They bowled really well with a wet ball, which is not easy,” he said.
On his decision to bat first, Sharma said that was dictated by how difficult it was to chase a modest score against Royal Challengers Bangalore. “This year the conditions here are such that the ball spins in the second half. We saw against RCB – we were chasing 170 (171) and we struggled to chase in spite of scoring 70 in the first six overs. The pitch has been up and done. We had decided that if it was an important match we will put up runs on the board and then defend.”
Looking ahead, Sharma said the team’s batting order was flexible from positions 3-7 which gives them the option to send big-hitters Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard higher. “If you look at the whole tournament, they (Hardik and Pollard) have batted around the 14th or 15th overs and scored 70-80 runs the maximum number of times. Right from number 3-7 all our batsmen are flexible. They can bat anywhere at any given time which makes our job easier. And Pollard and Hardik we have that option. Polly has done it a few times – if you remember he had done that against (Kings XI) Punjab (batted at no 4 and made 83 off 31 balls). We will keep our options open.”
Batting at number three, Pandey scored an unbeaten 71 off 47 balls as he hit a last-ball six to help SRH tie the match with Mumbai Indians, though the visitors lost the game in Super Over, in the absence of big-hitting David Warner and Jonny Bairstow, the number three batting slot is best suited for Manish Pandey says his Sunrisers Hyderabad teammate Mohammed Nabi.
“I think No. 3 is a good position for him. Over the last few games, he has consistently performed. It’s very good for the team as well because Bairstow and Warner have gone back home. Pandey has come and added strength,” said Nabi at the post match press conference.
Nabi said in spite of their best efforts Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga were difficult to score off with their yorker-length deliveries. Nabi and Pandey added 49 runs in SRH chase. “We tried to hit big ones, but they bowled brilliantly. The ball was reversing with Malinga and Bumrah. And they bowled brilliant yorkers as well. I thought we’ll go for the big hits but it’s not possible to hit yorkers for six. That’s why we took singles. The thinking was hit one or two big shots, because the wicket was easy to play. Everyone knows Bumrah is the best in death overs, he bowled brilliantly in the last overs as well as the Super Over,” said Nabi who scored 31 in 20 balls.
Rashid Khan could not stop Mumbai Indians in the Super Over but Nabi defended the decision of handing the ball to his Afghanistan compatriot, saying he was the best option for the job. Needing 9 for victory in the Super Over, Hardik Pandya carted Khan over the straight field in the first ball for a six to virtually seal the contest and Mumbai Indian’s place in the play-offs.
“Everyone knows Rashid is a brilliant bowler and he bowled brilliantly in the four overs. That’s why we decided to bowl Rashid. It happens in cricket,” said Nabi. “The whole tournament we have come close and lost matches. In the last match (against RCB) we will give 110% and hope that we qualify for Play-offs,” he ended on an optimistic note.