Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday admitted that the pitch on offer at the Wankhede Stadium during Mumbai’s tight seven-wicket win over Pune was far more sluggish than he anticipated.
Chasing a modest target after the home attack had confined Pune to just 118 all out, Mumbai required every delivery of their 20-over allotment to reach 124 for three.
Tendulkar and Ambati Rayudu, who were at the forefront of successful pursuits against Bangalore and Delhi earlier in the tournament, battled across a 74-run alliance for the second wicket. While their shot selection and general stroke play was superb in previous matches, Wednesday’s conditions brought them miscued drives and ill-timed strikes over the top aplenty.
The veteran made it to a dogged 35 before falling to leg-spinner Rahul Sharma, while his sidekick reached 37 until his departure at the hands of seamer Alfonso Thomas.
Rohit Sharma (20 not out) and Andrew Symonds (16 not out) were left to tentatively pick up the pieces, with their unbeaten 35-run stand ultimately steering the Mumbai Indians to victory.
“The wicket was slower than the previous ones. Today was one of those days when the shots me and Rayudu were trying did not come off and hopefully that won’t happen again,” said Tendulkar.
Having dropped Davy Jacobs, Mumbai promoted James Franklin to the top of the knock but the makeshift opener scored just six runs before perishing to mid-on.
“Our batting could have been better. We should have finished it in 17 or 18 overs. There were some hiccups because we could not produce bit shots,” added the victorious captain.
Munaf Patel, who earlier in the day bagged figures of three for eight as Pune slumped to 118 all out, fetched the Man of the Match award for his haul and hailed the influence of Shaun Pollock on his successful approach.
Former South African seamer Pollock has been working closely with Patel, Lasith Malinga and company as Mumbai’s bowling mentor across the 2011 IPL, with the veteran’s insight and tactics entirely appreciated by the 27-year-old Patel.
“I am working hard with Pollock, especially on line, length and leg-cutters. I had to use my variations or else they would have banged me for big runs on this pitch,” insisted Munaf.
Defeated skipper Yuvraj Singh was left to rue a substandard showing with the bat. The Warriors lost four top-order wickets in eight deliveries, while ducks from Singh and Mithun Minhas saw Pune’s choice to bat first backfire even more..
“Another 20 runs would have been good. This was not our day. We were never in the match. We lost too many early wickets,” lamented Yuvraj. Cricket365