Apart from the star players in the spotlight at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday, there will be extra interest around Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. Playing for Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants respectively, the two are the only Mumbai boys who have been regulars in the Indian team in recent times.
This Indian Premier League season though has been anything but satisfactory for them. After starting with a 60 in the opening game against Mumbai Indians, Supergiant’s opener Rahane has scores of 19, 10, 0, 30 and two, while in seven matches (six innings) so far, an unbeaten 40 is Rohit Sharma’s highest score, his next best being five runs.
Both will be desperate to break the rut in Monday’s game at their original homeground, the Wankhede Stadium. Especially Rahane, whose lack of runs would hamper his chances for selection in the Champions Trophy in June.
Supergiant’s coach Stephen Fleming attributed Rahane’s issues with being too eager to do well.
“I could tell him a lot, but the answer comes from within. He played well against Mumbai with the extra pace on the ball. I think maybe too eager to do well,” observed Fleming.
The former New Zealand opening batsman added that it looked to be case of Rahane looking to “push those rumours aside and prove a point”.
“So you end up going outside your natural rhythm. What he does when he’s batting normally is good enough. But it’s almost as if he feels the need to do more because people don’t respect the job that he does. It’s just that confidence to stay natural, that’s the message. But it’s hard, once the blood is boiling in the first six overs. All opening batsmen have that anxiety to get underway.
“So quite simply, be calm and natural, and play like he can. That’s going to be his challenge in one-day cricket. He does it enough, but an unfair label has been placed on him of not being quick enough. You still need players who can anchor the innings, and he’s certainly our anchor that we need,” Fleming said.
In Rohit’s case, surprisingly he has struggled against leg-spinners. He has been done in by the googly and in the last game, he failed to get in a good position for a stroke against Amit Mishra.
Fleming said they also have leg-spinners to target Rohit’s weakness this season. “We have got three leggies, Zampa, Tahir and Rahul Chahar and we have got a selection option, but we must be careful that we don’t pick a team just for one player. But it will be considered. If you have any chance to get Rohit Sharma out cheaply, you will certainly look at it as that is one of the keys to the Mumbai side. That will definitely be a part of our discussion, whether we can afford the luxury of carrying two... we will definitely have one. But certainly looking at two will be one of the key discussions.”