Mumbai Indians not favourites for Indian Premier League title, says coach Mahela Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene, coach of defending Indian Premier League champions Mumbai Indians, says his team are not the favourites, but equals along with other teams in the competition.

cricket Updated: Apr 05, 2018 18:21 IST
HT correspondent
HT correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mumbai Indians,Mahela Jayawardene,Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma and coach Mahela Jayawardene will be looking to guide Mumbai Indians to their fourth IPL crown.(PTI)

Defending Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Mumbai Indians, who begin their campaign against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Saturday, cannot be termed favourites but as equals in the 11th edition of the tournament according to coach Mahela Jayawardene.

“The combination of many teams have changed after the auction. Franchises like Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI all have new players and a different look. We have to start from the scratch again and be better than others to win,” said Jayawardene.

“We are defending champions but I do not see us as favourites, rather as equals to all the other teams this season.”

CSK alongside Rajasthan Royals return to the IPL after a two-year hiatus due to spot fixing. And Jayawardene is happy to have these historic teams back in contention.

“It is great to have the two teams back. They are part of IPL’s history, RR having won the first edition. Lot of familiar faces have gone into those teams as well. It will be a great challenge for us to play that first game against CSK,” added the former Sri Lankan captain.

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“This is what IPL needs -- that fan base and those rivalries are something special. Their return will certainly spice things up a little bit so it’s great.”

Sharing his thoughts on Mumbai Indian’s first opponents at the Wankhede Stadium this season, skipper Rohit Sharma says that whichever team can react to the pressure better, will come out on top in the opening encounter.

“Like Mahela said, the two teams share great success in the tournament,” said Rohit who guided India to victory in Sri Lanka in the Nidahas Trophy. “Everyone is excited to have them back and it’s always great to start off against your rivals CSK. I do not expect anything different this year. Both teams will be fighting really hard in the opening game and yes whichever team handles the pressure best will go on to win the game.”

Rohit further played down the pressure of captaining the defending champions explaining that personally, it is more of a responsibility and said that his team are capable of winning the title again.

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“Pressure is there when you take the field, whether it is an IPL franchise or you are playing for the national team. For me as an individual, what is important is to perform whether I play for Mumbai or the national team. The pressure of performing is always going to be there,” said Rohit.

“What is important is to deal with it correctly. The challenge in IPL is to react to different conditions and situations. There are players coming in for me, as a leader to get the right ones on the field is important. For me as in individual, I won’t look at it as pressure but as a responsibility.”

We are defending champions and we are very proud of that. All we need to do is focus on basics because we have got the skills to win the games,” said the 30-year-old.

Praising death-over specialist Jasprit Bumrah, who was pivotal to Mumbai India’s success last season Rohit said that the 24-year-old is more than capable of stepping up when called upon in high-pressure situations.

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“He understands and he knows what to do. He handled responsibility very well last year when Malinga was not in good form. We had to juggle between Mitchell (Johnson) and (Mitchell) McClenaghan while we used Bumrah as our main bowler,” said Rohit.

“This year, we have plenty of quality in our pace attack and therefore pressure will be less on Bumrah. Not to forget we have spinners who can control the middle overs.”

Coach Jayawardene, in agreement with his captain added:”Bums (Bumrah) doesn’t understand the word pressure, he does the role assigned to him very well. This time he has experienced players to support him with the likes of Fizz (Mustafizur Rahman), McCleneghan and Pat Cummins.”

First Published: Apr 05, 2018 18:18 IST