Skipper Sachin Tendulkar and team mentor Shaun Pollock were not on the same wavelength, at least when it came to changing the batting order for the match against the Rajasthan Royals on Thursday. “It’s not ideal to alter the batting order in a big match,” Pollock said. “Sachin had some thoughts on how to handle their bowling attack. He thought getting experienced batsmen in the middle was the best way forward,” said Pollock.
“The pitches have been turning here and one wants someone in the middle who could adapt to the conditions. The way Sachin plays makes him the most equipped to deal with conditions,” said Pollock, adding that was the thinking ‘behind his decision’.
The need to have Tendulkar in the middle isn’t being questioned, but why move Sanath Jayasuriya down the order?
And on top of that JP Duminy, the most prolific scorer was sent to five, down from his usual two down.
“I think we always try out certain things. Sometime it clicks, sometimes it doesn’t. We thought keeping out better batsmen for the later part of the chase will help, but it didn’t happen,” explained Sachin Tendulkar.
No matter what the intentions were, the shake-up surprised everyone, including the RR. “We were a little surprised. They probably wanted to get to a quick start and have their experienced players handling the pressure towards the back end. We adjusted our strategy as that came along,” said Rajasthan coach Jeremy Snape.
The surprise element notwithstanding, Mumbai’s changes did not help them overcome what has become their bugbear – tight finishes. It might be severe to call them chokers, but the stats show that they have been at the wrong end of four of the six closest finishes (see box).
On the day they needed six from nine, something they would have scored “99 times out of 100” but “succumbed to the pressure”. “We have had some close games going against us. One needs to know how to handle pressure situations and finish off the close games. We haven’t managed to do that on a couple of occasions, but we have learnt from it,” said Pollock.