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Frayed tempers, ‘no luck’ leave Mumbai players on the edge

cricket Updated: May 27, 2008 23:21 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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After Mumbai crumbled again in the face of pressure on Monday night at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium — failing to deliver in the last over of the match for the third time in a row and fifth in the tournament — cracks in the unit became evident.

While Neeraj Patel and Ravindra Jadeja, who guided Jaipur home off the last ball of the match, were ecstatic, Mumbai’s veterans looked an angry lot. Their gestures, betraying exasperation, even before the team could enter the dressing room with drooped shoulders, showed all was not well within the camp.

And Hindustan Times learnt on Tuesday that a “very senior” player exploded inside the dressing room, the moment the team members entered. The player, obviously frustrated by another close loss and moreover with the fact that Mumbai’s semifinal hopes hung by a thread, raised his voice and made a lot of remarks about the various matters related to team’s performance.

This came as a “shocker” to some of the youngsters in the team, who had been respecting the player since their childhood.

Within minutes of that incident, coach Lalchand Rajput blamed “luck” for Mumbai’s streak of successive losses in thrilling encounters.

“Howsoever well you play, luck eventually plays a role,” Rajput told a media conference. “It’s happened for the third time now. Obviously, fielding did let us down but I would say luck was not on our side.”

But it was slightly amusing for one to see the coach blaming luck and not his team for its inability to handle pressure. When a seasoned pro like Dilhara Fernando lets go a ball that was hit straight to him and then one of the most experienced internationals, Sanath Jayasuriya, fails to collect a soft throw, is it wise to blame just the luck?

Jaipur’s captain-coach Shane Warne laughed off Rajput’s theory.

“You can’t really blame luck,” Warne said. “When Dilhara Fernando bowls a wide in the last over, its not luck but poor execution of plans and the inability to handle pressure. I am not taking a dig at him. But you should have the ability to deliver under pressure. He took too much time to bowl his last over.”

As a result, rather than thinking of Wednesday’s game against Bangalore, all the Mumbai players were glued to the television sets in their hotel rooms on Tuesday evening hoping Hyderabad surprise Chennai.

Another worry on their minds is the weather in Bangalore. While rain forced the Bangalore team to practice indoors on Tuesday evening, Mumbai would be hoping it stays away on Wednesday.

But if it does not, then no arithematic can help Mumbai through to semis. And only in that case, supposing Hyderabad surprise Chennai, they would have nothing else than luck to blame!