As the Indian Premier League (IPL) heads towards the business end of the group stage, most teams are cautious of the wickets and the conditions in the United Arab Emirates.
With the pitches getting slower by the day, most teams are now banking heavily on their spinners. However, so far, it has been a different story for Mumbai Indians, which has gone on to back its pace troika – Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult and James Pattinson. And, the team’s head coach, Mahela Jayawardene, is happy with the way things have gone so far.
“The fast bowlers still have a bigger role to play in this competition – be it in the Powerplay, middle overs and the back-end. (We are) trying to keep the balance. As long as they are making contributions, penetrating through the opponent batting line-up, it does not matter what kind of surfaces we play on. The quality of fast bowling we have, they are always going to create opportunities,” Jayawardene said.
Talking about the spinners, the former Sri Lanka captain said that the team has ‘got a very good spinners’, who are operating right now within the playing eleven. “There are a few guys who are in the wings, who we might look at giving certain positions and certain match-ups. If the conditions suit, we will look into that but right now, I am happy with the combination we have and the way they have operated,” he said.
Getting into the stride
Ahead of its game against Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday, Jayawardene admitted that as a coach one can never be at ease in a tournament like the IPL. “But something we were conscious about the start of the tournament, where we are slightly slower, then we get into your stride and close your way into the tournament, something that we spoke about, we knew that the guys were in good form, prepared well, but it is all about getting into that awareness, intelligence, handling situations out in the middle and trying to get them to understand the conditions quickly enough and adapt,” he said.
“So, that’s where we came back strongly after the first few games where we learnt very quickly on how to play in Abu Dhabi, which is going to be our main venue… We are going to play eight games there and Dubai and one game in Sharjah, which we played very well, so that has been the key, and players understanding on how we need to adapt to the change, their role identification as well, batters, bowlers – what are the situations they are going to be in and winning those little battles with the opposition players, so far I’m very happy with the way guys have responded to that…”
Playing consistent cricket
The coach admitted that coming into the tournament after a long break due to the pandemic, the start was ‘little wobbly’, but things have fallen in place since. “In the first game, we played good cricket but we didn’t have that clinical instinct to finish it off. The second game was much better against KKR, and then third game again we showed inconsistency in certain departments but great game, where we came back and pushed it to the Super Over, but ever since then we have very been consistent, trying to improve in all departments, and playing some consistent cricket,” he said.
“So, you can’t complain after seven matches, to be on 12 points and having two losses, one of those being Super Over. Overall as a coach I am happy but there are areas we can improve and keep improving because tournament always going to get tough and tougher at the back-end,” the seasoned coach warned.