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‘Break blessing in disguise’

Karnataka’s assembly polls forced a postponement in Mumbai’s IPL away match against Bangalore from May 10 to May 28, reports Amol Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: May 12, 2008 02:41 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Karnataka’s assembly polls forced a postponement in Mumbai’s IPL away match against Bangalore from May 10 to May 28.

As a result, Mumbai have a six-day break, the biggest for any team in the tournament, at exactly the halfway stage.

However, given the fabulous run — three successive wins after four losses — the most expensive team had before the forced break, they would have liked to take the opponents on in a hurry.

But that wasn’t to be. And after a three-day optional break, the full squad congregated at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex on Sunday afternoon to prepare for Thursday’s home game against Chennai.

The energy levels appeared to be the highest, especially with Sachin Tendulkar looking like almost there to make his much-awaited IPL debut. And coach Lalchand Rajput termed the break as a ‘blessing in disguise.’ “We would have been happy to have kept on playing since the momentum was on our side,” Rajput said.

“But it has been a blessing in disguise for us. It has given Sachin a lot of time to be 100 per cent and Shaun (Pollock) also has gotten ample time to recover from his back strain. And a lot of youngsters were able to take a two-day break, which has helped them freshen up their minds. And the team is looking forward to the second half of the tournament.”

While Tendulkar is recovering from an aggravated right groin injury, Pollock had developed a mild back strain.

Apart from rest for two key players, Mumbai had another piece of good news with all-rounder Abhishek Nayar, who played most of the first half only as a batsman due to a side strain, having a considerably long spell in the nets without looking in trouble.

Despite Mumbai being on a roll, they have a lot of scope for improvement in two of the three key areas — batting and
fielding.

“In T20, a batsman always thinks he has to hit it hard. So what we practised today that he has to hit straighter,” Rajput said. “Initially, no batsman should throw his wicket way. And we should focus on building at least one big partnership.”

Rajput had a clear message to his batsmen who have managed only one fifty in the tournament so far and have registered only one-century stand.

And what about the fielding?

“There’s still scope for improvement, especially in direct hits,” Rajput said. “If we could get that one run out every game, things would be a lot better. We have to improve on that aspect.”

Rajput, cricket manager in India’s triumphant World Twenty20 campaign, has carried on one of the team’s vital practice aspect. Just like Dhoni’s men used to do in South Africa in September, even the Mumbai team does not end any practice session without practising “bowl-outs”.