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DD unlikely to tinker with their winning combination
By IPL Staff
New Delhi 16 May 2012
One of the most balanced teams in IPL 2012, Delhi Daredevils are sitting on the top of the points table. Consistent performers in the league phase, they have come out on top in tough situations and earned their place in the playoffs.
They take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore, pushing for a place in the final four, in their last game at their home ground, Feroz Shah Kotla. Ahead of the match, vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene and coach TA Sekar spoke to the media about the team’s performance so far. Excerpts from the pre-match press conference:
On having sealed a place in the playoffs Mahela: One of the goals that we set was to qualify and then try and finish in the top two which would give us the advantage [to make it to the final]. But at the same time, the next two games are very important for us going into the playoffs. We need to make sure that we consistently perform and improve in the areas that need improvement. Winning is a good habit to have. If we can continue to do that it will probably help us in the playoffs as well.
On whether the middle-order batting was a concern for the team Mahela: [...] It is good that the top order is scoring runs. 60-70 percent of T20 games are won on [the basis of] the top-order guys scoring runs. After that it is just about how you handle situations. If you see the [top] ten batters in the IPL, all are openers or No. 3 batsman, so that’s where a game is won. It is when the top order doesn’t do [well] that the responsibility falls on [the middle order]. Yesterday we handled the situation pretty well. Naman [Ojha] batted extremely well and then Irfan [Pathan] came and finished the game off. So if we can continue to improve on that [then] I think that’s another added advantage for us. We have two explosive openers and they pretty much can win a game for us. Going forward, we just need to keep improving. The middle order is not a concern but it is about us handling those situations in a better way.
On giving other players an opportunity in the remaining games
That is something that we will discuss with the management but we don’t want to experiment too much. I think that has been a good formula for us. In the entire tournament we haven’t chopped and changed too much. We have been very consistent in our selections. We have only changed personnel according to the conditions and opposition, which has worked for us. Given the opposition and the conditions, we might make a few [changes] in the next few games. On his own form and on being part of a team that has been performing very well
Mahela: In the first three years [with] Kings XI [Punjab], I think we were in the semi-finals in the first year and we lost; apart from that, we were very close. The form has been good. I have had a different role in each and every franchise that I have played. [...] In Delhi [Daredevils] I have a different responsibility. I am quite happy with it. I wish I had contributed a bit more in various games in a different way but at the end of the day it is about winning matches and we have done that really well. As long as we continue to do that, that’s the most important thing. If I can contribute in a winning cause, that’s what I am looking for. On the two teams that he has been associated with – Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils
Sekar: Most of the IPL teams function in a similar manner [...] Fortunately, I went to one of the top sides. The year I was at [MI], they came to the top and when I came back [to DD], luckily we built a very good team around [Virender] Sehawg, Mahela and Kevin Pietersen, so we are on top today. Work ethics wise it is similar with every [team]. On planning an attack to thwart RCB’s batting
Sekar: We have already played RCB in the initial round and at that time we didn’t have Mahela, [Kevin] Pietersen or [David] Warner. Our bowlers knew exactly what to do. All our players watch other matches so they know exactly what to do and what not to do. We have experienced bowlers like Morne Morkel. Umesh Yadav has been having a very good run and then Varun Aaron has come back after an injury. The bowlers know exactly what to do and what not to do [....]. We don’t put pressure on our bowling group at all. On the wicket Sekar: The Kotla wicket is always the same. It doesn’t change much On Virender Sehwag as captain
Mahela: He is brilliant. This is the first time that I have played under him. He is very relaxed and gives a lot of freedom to players, which is very important. Everyone has responded very well to that. The bowlers have a lot of freedom to do what they want to do; they talk to Viru about the game. We try and execute plans but it’s tough when you go out there in the middle; things can change [on the field]. In the [space of a] few balls, we have to adapt to a situation; Viru has handled those situations very well. He is relaxed when he batting as well so that reflects in his captaincy. Everyone is quite happy. It’s a happy dressing room [...] Above all, he is performing as well; he is relaxed, so everything works well for us. On DD having lost the playoffs previously and the likelihood of getting across the line this year
Mahela: It’s a fair question but all the teams are in that situation when they are going into the playoffs. I cannot predict what is going to happen. What I can control is how we perform and our focus will be on that. If you ask Chennai Super Kings or Rajasthan Royals or Deccan Chargers – teams that have won [in the past] – they would say the same thing. When you are going into the playoffs, anything can happen on the day. You just need to have a lot of confidence in what you have done in the last three or four weeks. You need to go out there and enjoy yourself and not put a lot of pressure on yourself. That’s how we are going to approach it. As seniors we will try and ensure that the youngsters are relaxed going into those playoffs and try and give it our best. That’s what the franchise wants us to do and we will control that.
Sekar: If you look at the playoffs, the third year [shows a change] as compared with the first and the second year. In South Africa we were No. 1 [in the league phase], and then after one bad day on the field we were out of the competition. But now it is not like that. If you finish at No. 1 or 2, even if you lose the [first playoff], you get another chance to get to the final. That is a better option to have. [...] It was one bad day, one knock by Adam Gilchrist and we lost the opportunity to go to the next level [that year]. Most IPL teams aim to finish at No. 1 or 2 so that they get two chances to go to the final.
As a result of Mumbai Indians’ recent last-over win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Kolkata Knight Riders slipped down from the first two places in league standings for the first time in three weeks.
The Mumbai Indians should consider themselves fortunate to be where they are; though they haven’t been anywhere close to their potential, they are one win away from sealing a berth in the playoffs. KKR were unstoppable in mid-tournament, but defeats in their last two matches (to MI and CSK) have meant they still need the one win to ensure a berth in the playoffs.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 08:00 p.m.
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
With 228 runs and just one half-century to his credit in 10 innings, it would be fair to say – given the standards he has set – Sachin Tendulkar has underperformed so far. Due to MI’s problems at the top of the order and the importance of this game, expect the Little Master to come out more determined and play the sheet anchor role, like he did for most part of the last season.
There’s no question about the talent and ability of Rohit Sharma. However, the lack of sound temperament and consistency has often been held against him. Worryingly for the Mumbai Indians and for Indian cricket, that trend has continued this IPL as well. Every inning from the MI batsman, following a meaningful one, has produced a low score. The 25-year-old needs to appreciate the importance of performing consistently, especially since a lot rides on these last few games.
The two players in the KKR line-up who stand way above the rest are their skipper Gautam Gambhir and spinner Sunil Narine. Gambhir has not allowed the burden of captaincy affect his batting, and has instead performed better with the added responsibility. The southpaw has scored six half-centuries in 11 innings since deciding to open the innings, and he appears to be on top of his game.
Narine, meanwhile, has been unplayable almost every single time he has got the ball in his hand. Apart from being his team’s leading wicket-taker (15 wickets), the Trinidadian has also plugged the scoring rate by strangling the opposition; his economy rate in IPL 2012 is 5.29.
Whenever the Mumbai Indians and the Kolkata Knight Riders have gone head-to-head, the former have generally emerged victors. In the nine meetings between the two teams, MI have been triumphant on eight occasions. KKR registered their only victory over MI when they beat them by nine wickets at the Eden Gardens in IPL 2010.
In the most recent meeting between the two teams at Kolkata earlier this season, MI beat KKR by 27 runs. Powered by Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 109, the visitors posted 182 for one while batting first; they then restricted the hosts to 155 for four.
Lasith Malinga had picked up wickets in each of his first eight matches in IPL 2012, but he has gone wicket-less in the next three matches.
The Mumbai Indians will next feature in the final league fixture of the season when they take on the Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on May 20. The Kolkata Knight Riders, meanwhile, will finish their league schedule with an away clash against the Pune Warriors India on May 19.