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Little cheer for beleaguered Mumbai

Mumbai have played four matches and have lost as many and barring the game against Chennai, have never looked like opening their tally, reports Amol Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Apr 29, 2008 03:29 IST
Amol Karhadkar

The first 10 days of the IPL have underlined that the crores spent on teams have no bearing when a bunch of 11 players take the field. Had that not been the case, Mumbai and Bangalore, the two most expensive franchises at $111.9 million and $111.6 million respectively, would not have been reeling at the bottom of the points table. Going into Monday’s game, Bangalore were seventh while Mumbai were last at the end of Sunday’s matches.

Mumbai have played four matches and have lost as many and barring the game against Chennai, have never looked like opening their tally. With the unfolding of the Harbhajan Singh drama, it is unlikely the team are in the right mindset when they take on Kolkata at Eden Gardens on Tuesday.

Rudderless

From the moment skipper Sachin Tendulkar announced his unavailability due to an aggravated groin injury, Mumbai did not have a backup plan. Harbhajan was the only choice once Sanath Jayasuriya turned down the captaincy and Shaun Pollock preferred a’local in the initial stages’.

The fact that Harbhajan was clueless about captaincy and the players was evident in the first game itself.

Batting woes

In Tendulkar’s absence, the onus was on Jayasuriya but he has failed with the bat. Robin Uthappa has been the highest run-getter for Mumbai with 118 runs but the manner in which he has been throwing his wicket seems he is yet to be recognised as someone who can be relied upon.

“We are missing Sachin. He brings in so much at the top of the order,” said Pollock, who led against Hyderabad on Sunday.

Bowling no different

Pollock hasn’t succeeded in containing the batsmen and Ashish Nehra has been patchy. With Harbhajan unavailable for the rest of the tournament, it seems former Mumbai spin ace Padmakar Shivalkar would be more successful than rookies Vikrant Yeligatti, Siddharth Chitnis and Ankit Chavan!

Back-to-back matches

Including Tuesday’s game, Mumbai are playing five matches in 10 days. Of these, four have been on alternate days and in different cities. The effect of hectic travel was evident on Sunday with the drop in intensity levels.

“When you are winning, it’s not difficult because you have the confidence and momentum going,” Pollock said, on Sunday night. “When you are in a position like us it becomes very difficult to come up with new ideas.”

To add to this, the Harbhajan drama has affected the team.

Is there a way out’

Mumbai couldn’t have asked for a worse scenario than facing Brendon McCullum, Sourav Ganguly and almost a 100,000 cheering Kolkatans.

If at all they are to keep their hopes alive, only individual brilliance like that of Hyderabad’s Adam Gilchrist can recharge them. Going by performances, only Abhishek Nayar, who has been the only positive player so far, can do it. Nayar can’t be expected to perform every time he goes out to bat. So, it all boils down to whether Tendulkar, if at all he plays, can come up with a blinder on Tuesday.