In a tournament where a team has had to play almost three games a week, there has been an overkill of the “importance of momentum” in each of the IPL editions.
The Mumbai Indians head coach Robin Singh, who himself had stressed that “this tournament is all about momentum” in the first week of IPL-III, made a U-turn though, while justifying MI’s decision to rest their core group during Monday night’s clash against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
While the rest of the team flew to Kolkata from Bangalore after Saturday night’s game, five key players — Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard — returned to Mumbai for a couple of days’ rest.
“It was just a one-off game which we could afford to lose,” Singh said before the Mumbai Indians’ semifinal against Bangalore. “We wanted to give everyone a chance before the end of the league stage. It also gave some of the key players a chance to rest.”
While Singh emphasised that the last two games will have very little bearing on Wednesday’s semifinal, Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Anil Kumble tried his best to put MI under pressure.
With the experience of having led Bangalore in last year’s final, Kumble hinted that his side has an advantage as Mumbai Indians are playing their maiden IPL semifinal.
“We have played in the semifinal before, so we carry that experience,” Kumble said. “It’s not easy to be consistent over a period of six weeks. To qualify, you need to win seven games, this time seven games but (usually) at least eight games. For us, we want to go out and express ourselves. It’s a short tournament from here on. It’s like you win two games and you win the tournament. We are aware of that, as well as of the responsibilities and the pressures.”
Not many in the IPL fraternity are forthcoming when asked about match-fixing allegations. Anil Kumble was an exception on Tuesday evening. “I don’t think I can say much. What concerns us is what happens on the field. As cricketers, as players, we have to ensure that we play to our potential, give our best and ensure that we play good cricket out there.”