IPL 2017: MI’s KEY mantra – Keep ’em guessing – Mumbai Indians won their first fixture of IPL 10 with an incredible comeback against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Mumbai Indians cricketer Jasprit Bumrah (C) celebrates with his teammates after taking the wicket of Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Chris Lynn during the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede Cricket Stadium in Mumbai on April 9, 2017. (AFP)
Mumbai: In his playing days, Mahela Jayawardene was a batsman straight out of the coaching manual. You’d find every shot of his in a textbook comprising perfect cricketing shots, and rarely would you see him resort to a reverse sweep or a switch hit or a scoop. He was many a kids’ temple of technique.
As a coach, though, the Sri Lankan is wholly different. In his first major high-profile coaching assignment, Jayawardene seems to have thrown that very coaching manual and textbook out of the dressing room with some decisions in the couple of games as head coach of Mumbai Indians.
In the first game against Rising Pune Supergiant, he benched Harbhajan Singh to play an extra seamer and dropped captain Rohit Sharma to No. 3 from his preferred opening slot.
In the second outing against the Kolkata Knight Riders at home on Sunday night, he brought Harbhajan back, and dropped his skipper a slot further to No. 4. Instead, a young Nitish Rana walked in at No. 3 at the fall of Parthiv Patel’s wicket.
The investment of faith paid rich dividends, for the southpaw from Delhi anchored the 179-run chase with aplomb, stroking a 29-ball 50 and laying an easier platform for Hardik Pandya to finish the job.
“We’ve just been very flexible with our line-up,” Jayawardene said on Sunday night after his team’s four-wicket win over the Knights.
“Since we have that left-right combination (of Patel and Jos Buttler at the top), we can play around with different opposition. The boys have brought into that, trying to be flexible and playing for the team. Everyone realises that they’ve got a role to play and we back them 100 per cent to do a job. If they fail, we still back them. These are some little things that we’re trying to do right,” he added.
Jayawardene’s tactical moves have produced a mixed bag so far in two games, with MI losing the first outing and winning the second in a nail-biting finish. However, that isn’t going to stop the head coach from continuing to throw new tricks out of his bag.
And yes, that also includes the possibility of the captain being promoted back to his much-cherish opening position during the course of the tournament.
“It’s just a decision we took tactically this season. We can’t keep playing in the same pattern that we played in the past, where teams tend to target Rohit, which puts a lot of pressure on the other guys as well. Rohit is coming back from an injury, so we need to slowly get him involved. You might be surprised if in some of the games, he might open the batting.
“So we just keep it close to ourselves in terms of what we need to do. You just need to have that surprise element going forward,” Jayawardene said.
Rest assured, some surprises might await the Sunrisers Hyderabad as well on Wednesday.
Mahela takes dig at umpiring standards
Mumbai Indians head coach Mahela Jayawardene took a dig at the umpiring standards in the IPL after Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma were at the receiving end of two umpiring errors against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.
“It happens, it’s not in our control. But I wish for a change that the opposition can take our wickets,” he said. “Let’s hope that there will be more consistency when we go into the deep end of the tournament. And that we can try and rectify some of the issues that we have.”