Not many teams, in fact no team, would consider three wins after the halfway stage as a job well done. But after losing the first four of the seven matches in the Indian Premier League, Mumbai will.
The Mumbai team showed grit (not using the word “khadoos attitude” is deliberate), something it has been known for in domestic cricket. And after demolishing table toppers Jaipur on Wednesday, Shaun Pollock’s boys were placed a decent fifth midway into this cricket-entertainment bonanza.
However, it has been a bumpy ride for the Mumbai team. First, they lost Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who was supposed to lead their attack, due to an injury. Then came the biggest blow — skipper Sachin Tendulkar, the team talisman, has not been able to take the field due to recovery from a right groin injury taking as long as it has.
As a result, Harbhajan Singh picked up the reins of the team in the first three matches. But after the third loss — to Mohali in Mohali on April 25 — the off-spinner got involved in Slapgate with Sreesanth. Not only did Mumbai lose their leading off-spinner for the rest of the tournament, the incident also unsettled the youngsters, who were already under pressure due to a hattrick of losses.
Pollock takes over
In such a scenario, it wasn’t a surprise to see Mumbai — led by Pollock — go down tamely to Hyderabad in the next match. Even before Adam Gilchrist started his blitzkrieg, the shoulders of all the Mumbai players had drooped.
What Mumbai wanted was someone to lead by example. And Pollock, having done it time and again for South Africa during a chequered international career, did just that by picking two wickets in the first over in Kolkata and set the foundation for Mumbai’s first win.
After that, Mumbai have looked a completely rejuvenated outfit. The zeal, and more importantly, the will to win seem to have taken centre stage as the team begins its journey on the back seven.
With the team on a high, the last thing they would have wanted, as mentioned by Pollock after the Jaipur win, was a weeklong break. But Mumbai have no choice since their next match is on Wednesday 1 — at home against Chennai.
But the team management has made a wise move by offering a three-day break for all the members so that they can recharge themselves by spending a couple of nights with their families.
And there’s another silver lining to the break. It gives Tendulkar some more time to be 100 per cent before taking over the reins from Pollock. And once Tendulkar gets back into action, the loss of Dwayne Bravo, who will be playing his last match against Chennai before leaving for national duty, will not be felt.