Kolkata: A nervy six-wicket win over Punjab Kings in the previous game may have handed five-time champions Mumbai Indians a lifeline in their pursuit of play-offs, but head coach Mahela Jayawardene admits they are a far cry from the invincible look about them during the 2020 season in the UAE.
While Hardik Pandya regained his confidence in the last match with the bat, Suryakumar Yadav and promising Ishan Kishan have looked alarmingly short of confidence so far - but the Sri Lankan legend said batsmen do encounter such phases in their careers.
‘‘I have myself managed such a phase during 2003 and came out of it. You need to understand that Surya is a very important player for us - he’s batting as well as before at the nets. The quality of these players in undeniable - we need to make sure that they are kept in the same balance. It’s a question of spending some time in the middle,’’ said Mahela, who has been appointed as a consultant for Sri Lankan team for the T20 World Cup which follows in the UAE.
The other nagging question that the MI management has had to face all along the IPL was about Hardik Pandya’s bowling - especially with the World T20 now barely three weeks away. A cautious Mahela said: ‘‘Fact remains that Hardik hasn’t bowled since India’s tour of Sri Lanka. We are talking to the management and will evaluate as to what’s best for Hardik.’’
The change in the nature of wickets also came up for discussion and on being asked if MI would look to try an additional spinner apart from leg spinner Rahul Chahar against Delhi Capitals in Sharjah on Saturday, Mahela said: ‘‘It depends on the conditions - if tactically it’s needed.’’
Mumbai are one of the sides who have prided on their new ball attack in Powerplays. However, with Delhi likely to employ either the senior pro Ravi Ashwin or Axar Patel inside the first six overs, will Mumbai think on similar lines? ‘‘See, it depends on match-ups. The behaviour of the pitches have changed here since last season. They may be trying to save the wickets with the World Cup coming up,’’
Asked about Chris Gayle’s pullout from IPL due to bubble fatigue, Mahela said: ‘‘I do agree that it’s a tough situation. We at MI have tried to create an environment where the players don’t feel flow with most having their families.’’