Despite being just a win away from securing its place in the Indian Premier League semifinals, Mumbai Indians would like to get more victories so as not to let matters like net-run rate affect its chances of getting into the knock-out stages, team director (cricket) T A Sekar said today.
"Whatever I have seen in the last two years, if you are around 14 points you are positioned around the semi-final stages. But you never know. If you look at the points of other teams there is not much difference," he told reporters ahead of the teams' match against Deccan Chargers here tomorrow.
"I think it's better to be on the safer side. Maybe if you are 14 you'll end up in the fourth place or something. So it's better to have one or two more victories to make sure that we don't have to lose out on net run rate or whatever it is," he said.
Sekar felt once the team had qualified for the semis it was irrelevant which side it faced in the knock-out stages.
"By the time we come to the semifinal stages, it won't matter (whom we play). We would have played against those teams whom we have already faced twice. We have played those teams even in the previous two editions twice. So we know their strengths and weakness. It doesn't matter whom we play," he said.
Sekar said his team would have to be wary of Deccan Chargers, who would be hurt after losing out to Mumbai Indians in their previous outing on Sunday.
"They also have their pride. They will come with all guns firing," Sekar said.
Asserting that the presence of skipper Sachin Tedulkar was a great asset for the team, Sekhar said the batting great ensured that even the younger players played well around him.
"We feel that Sachin's anchoring role is definitely putting us in a good position. He has got the capability to really bisect the field and get the odd four every over. And when he really steps down its seems he's seeing the ball like a football.
"Psychologically, to dislodge Sachin is a big task. In the meantime the other batsmen get in and get some runs. Sachin batting like this is the greatest advantage for us," he said.
"When you bat along with Sachin, you learn a lot from him and he also advises them (junior players) on a ball to ball basis. And then he stop these guys from playing stupid shots. Its all the side effects if Sachin is around," Sekar added.
Sekar denied that all-rounder Kieron Pollard had failed to live upto his reputation till now and added that the West Indian was a complete package.
"I don't agree that he hasn't fired. You should not compare his billing and ability. Kieron Pollard is a person who'll definitely win matches. There are lots of matches - another seven matches, semi-finals and finals - to go out there. He's really good at tearing apart a bowling attack."
"Even against Chennai he scored 20 runs in an over and that made winning (for us) easy. Even in the last match he scored 20 runs of some 13 balls and brought down the run-rate.
We got the runs eassily. He's the player of that sort who'll make quick 30s and 40s and make winning easier. Maybe at some times he'll get a big 60 or 70 where he will change the complexion of the game totally.
"He's a good package. He can bowl on the slow Indian wickets and get his leg-cutters and off-cutters going. With his height he can also extract bounce. And he's a fantastic fielder inside the ring and in the slog overs he can go outside the ring," Sekar added.
Sekar ruled out playing the big-hitting West Indian up the order and said he was an ideal batsman between number four and six. "We want him to (first) get used to the Indian conditions. I think he can bat anywhere between 4-6 depending upon the context (of the match)," he added.
Defending the IPL rule that penalises teams heavily for maintaining slow over rates, Sekhar said Mumbai Indians, who have been already penalised twice, will have to improve in this regard.
"It's an international rule. Even in Twenty20 World Cup we have to finish 20 overs in 80 minutes. In IPL there are two time-outs so they give us 85 minutes. And then they give a grace time of 7-8 minutes also depending upon the context. We
need to push up the bowling rate," he added.
On the heavy fine amount, he said, "Its a bit too much but in IPL everything is on the higher side. When there is a rule one has to follow that."
On off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's tendency to get into controversies, Sekar said the team has got him under control and added that he won't mind having more of such players in the team.
"Harbhajan is a guy who gives more than 100 per cent. At the heat of the moment there are some guys who get the adrenalin really flowing. But you see we have him very much under control. I don't think we should make it such a big issue.
"Because he is one cricketer who give over 100 per cent on the field, I don't mind having guys like him in the team because you can really bank on them," he added.
Sekar said Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nair, who was a vital cog in Mumbai Indians previous two campaigns in the IPL, was certain to get a look-in once he recovered from his recurring wrist injury.
"Nayar will find a place in the playing eleven provided he's 100 per cent fit. He's recovering very well. He should be fit by next week. He's likely to start batting from tomorrow," he said.
Sekar said that though middle-order batsman Saurabh Tiwary was suffering from toothache, it was unlikely to affect his chances of playing in tomorrow's match.
"His (Saurabh) tooth is giving him some problem but he will play," Sekhar added.