Kings XI Punjab, the table-toppers, were outplayed in a last-over thriller and the roar in the Wankhede Stadium was heard by those taking their evening walks at Marine Drive. Most of the cheers came from the 18,000 children that were brought to watch the match under MI’s Education For All initiative. And those kids were MI’s 12th man today.
The victory was sealed by Kieron Pollard with young Aditya Tare (16 off six balls) at the other end. In a post-match interview with iplt20.com, Tare recalled the moment when he got out in the death overs against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai that resulted in MI’s fifth successive loss in the tournament. He was not about to make that mistake again, and he didn’t.
The 26-year-old spoke about the boost the team got just by returning to their fortress and he hoped the spark will only grow brighter.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
Finally a win!
Oh, yes! Extremely happy to open our account on the points table. It is great to be back at the Wankhede Stadium, which was our fortress the last season. The presence of the young kids was a big boost. They were absolutely vibrant and buzzing throughout the four hours of the game. That made us know that there is a lot of support behind us.
The team was in a similar position in the last match in UAE when you got out. The team lost. Did that played on your mind?
Yes, I played a few shots and got out, leaving Polly (Kieron Pollard) to do all the work. Had I not gotten out, the result might have been different. So, today when I remained unbeaten till the end, it meant a lot to me. To contribute and to arrest your team’s five-game losing streak is bound to give you a lot of satisfaction and confidence. Hopefully, we will carry on this momentum that we have created and move forward.
How difficult is it for a youngster like you to maintain positivity when the team keeps losing like that?
We all understand that in this format if you win a couple of games, there’s a momentum that builds and you get into that winning phase. On the other hand, a couple of losses bring doubt. That never helps. It was a good change to come back to India and especially at the Wankhede. That’s been vital.
Do you believe that Kieron Pollard’s knock in your last match in UAE was a stroke of inspiration that the team needed?
Exactly! That was the best game of cricket we played in the UAE. That was our first performance this season that we were proud of as a team. It was unfortunate that the result didn’t go our way and we lost narrowly. Also, that knock brought Polly back in form, which is very critical for us because we bank heavily on him when the chips are down and when we need to score heavily in the last crucial overs. It is great to have him back in form.
When you look around in the MI dressing room for guidance, do you feel spoilt for choice seeing so many legends around?
In a very good way. I consider myself very fortunate to be part of the Mumbai Indians franchise because here we have world-class expertise in every aspect of the sport – batting, bowling and fielding. The presence of Sachin sir especially is invaluable. He’s like a walking encyclopedia of not only batting, but cricket on the whole. The good thing for us youngsters is that he loves to talk about the game all the time.
Punter (Ricky Ponting) was an inspiration for us the last year. He created a great atmosphere in the dressing room because he is such a positive person. When he came back for a few days this season, we were very happy to avail of his expertise. In the few days that he was with us, he spoke one-on-one with the batsmen and told us what he thought went wrong with each of them. We gained from his tremendous ability to read the game.
Anil bhai (Kumble) has been of immense help to our bowlers. He also has a very strong personality and he brings in a sense of balance and calm in the dressing room.