Mumbai Indians’campaign in the second phase of IPL 2021 was off to a poor start with a 20-run loss to arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings in Dubai on Sunday. The two-time defending champions went into the game without their skipper Rohit Sharma and star all-rounder Hardik Pandya and deeply felt their absence while chasing an on-par total of 157 on a sluggish wicket.
While Rohit missed the clash due to a knee niggle he had during the England tour, Pandya had a minor injury too during training and both were rested as precautionary measures, confirmed coach Mahela Jayawardene, who added that the duo will play the next game against Kolkata Knight Riders on September 23.
“Rohit was batting and doing his running as well but after he came from the UK, we fell that he still needs more rest,” the 44-year-old coach said during the post-match press conference. “He should be fine and will be playing the next match. Hardik was training and had a little niggle so again as a precaution we gave him an extra day to see how things are but nothing serious.”
The match turned out to be a low-scoring affair by IPL standard while the two-paced nature of the pitch often deceived the batsmen with both the teams facing a top-order collapse. However, coach Jayawardene felt there wasn’t anything wrong with the pitch and it was the batsmen who failed to apply themselves to the conditions.
“Pitch wasn’t doing too much. In the 2nd innings, the wicket was good and our batsmen felt they could bat through. I agree we gave away a couple of soft dismissals. We just needed someone to take a bit more responsibility and bat through the innings and that we didn’t do. In CSK’s case, Ruturaj did that as he hanged on despite CSK losing wickets. I think we really disappointed ourselves on how we reacted to the situation,” said the former Sri Lanka batsman.
Mumbai head into the Sunday’s on the back of two wins in Delhi before the match was halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the IPL bubble. On the night of the match, it was clear that the five-time champions are yet to find the winning momentum as their dependable names struggled to be among runs. Barring Saurabh Tiwary, who scored a 40-ball 50*, none of the MI batsmen went past the 20-run mark.
Jayawardene admitted that it’s hard to have momentum after such a long gap and the coming few days leading to KKR match in Abu Dhabi will be about getting the team back on track.
“Such things are not in our control, we played a couple of good games in Delhi but unfortunately the tournament had to stop and everyone went away. Players were playing a lot of cricket in different parts of the world and then coming back together to create the same winning momentum is harder. We knew that we need to be sharper, especially against an experienced Chennai team. But we didn’t compete as we did in the first 10 overs and in a forty-over game if you are not in the game for that many overs against Chennai then it’s always going to be tough. I agree we were not good enough on the day, made mistakes and the game awareness was lacking and we will be working on them in the coming days,” he concluded.