Mumbai Indians batsmen need to stick around for a while before playing shots, said the team’s spin-bowling spearhead Harbhajan Singh after the defending champions slumped to a nine-wicket defeat against IPL debutants Rising Pune Supergiants in the season-opener in Mumbai on Saturday.
“We did not bat as well as we should have. It was a tough game for us. Mumbai wicket is probably the best to bat on. Poor shot selection made us where we landed. We just need to work on our game a bit more,” said the experienced bowler at his post-game media conference at the Wankhede Stadium.
Mumbai were in deep trouble at 68 for 7, having lost their top four batsmen inside five overs for 30 runs, before the feisty Harbhajan counter-punched to make an unbeaten 30-ball 45 and lead the score to 121 for 8. Pune easily chased down the target of 122, riding on opener Ajinkya Rahane’s classy 42-ball unbeaten 66.
“Sometimes we think there’s hardly any time in the middle. But we need to take more time, I feel, as a batting unit,” added Harbhajan, who was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal opening display by MI.
“Even as a bowling unit we need to come out with a better plan and execute it. There was nothing wrong with the wicket. It’s a great cricketing wicket and probably a top wicket. We did not play well and that’s why we are sitting not happy. Hopefully we will pull up our socks and play better cricket in future,” he added.
The off-spinner, who took 1 for 24, defended his captain Rohit Sharma’s decision to bat first instead of opting to bowl which he said was what many sides wanted to do at the Wankhede.
“It was Rohit’s decision to bat first. I go by it. As a team member we need to back his decision and go with whatever he feels is right. May be it was about less pressure on batsmen while batting first. Lots of teams like to chase here.
“He also said the absence of Sri Lankan pace spearhead Lasith Malinga, who is yet to join the team as he is recovering from a knee injury, was hurting the team a bit at the Wankhede.
“Having (Lasith) Malinga in the side here, we have defended totals of 160 or 170. I don’t know how long he is out, or if he’s out forever (for entire season),” said Harbhajan.
“(But) hopefully over the next few games we need to read the wicket better and play better cricket, basically, even if we bat first,” he added.