Kolkata: Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma on Tuesday asserted that his side would bounce back from the defeat in the Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign opener and pick up steam as the tournament progresses as they know how to “win the trophy and games”. (Anurag Thakur to Meet Mumbai Indians, Rising Pune Supergiants to Discuss Maharashtra Crisis)
Mumbai Indians had a typical slow start to their title defence in season nine, going down to Rising Pune Supergiants by nine wickets on April 9 but Rohit said his team has in it the wherewithal to come back stronger. (Expect Sunil Narine To Be More Dangerous, Says Gautam Gambhir)
“It (the loss) was disappointing, the performance we had is not something we would want. But things like this can happen. What has happened has happened and we don’t want to carry any baggage. We have gone back to the drawing board and decided what we can’t afford as a team. We have rectified our mistakes. Hopefully we have a better game here,” Rohit said on the eve of their match against Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday. (Sunil Narine Return Boosts Kolkata Knight Riders Ahead of Mumbai Indians Clash)
“We are a team that knows what we to do to win the trophy and win games. This is professional unit and you don’t need to motivate the team. Everyone knows what is expected. You can’t get demotivated. You have to come back stronger. That is the only way going forward,” he added.
Rohit said every team needs some time some time to settle down and the first few weeks would be a challenge.
“The first few games are always challenging because as a group you are all trying to get together and play as a team which is difficult for every team, not just Mumbai Indians. That is a challenge for us as well. The first few weeks will be a big challenge, to get the right combination and field your best team,” he said.
Right from his decision to bat first, the team selection also came in for criticism as their batsmen put up a shoddy display to be restricted to 121/8 by Pune Supergiants.
“We play according to the condition and get right balance of the squad. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it may not. It is important that you identify that as early as possible in the tournament and make sure you have a settled squad going ahead. It is always important to give the guys a few games to prove themselves,” said the right-handed opening batsman.
On the poor starters tag of Mumbai Indians, he said, “People are there to comment but we want to concentrate on our processes. People will judge and talk because we are probably one of the popular teams in IPL history and we have proved that in our performances.
“People have the right to talk about it but we don’t want to be slow starters. We want to win as many games as possible in the first half and see what happens afterwards. It is still early days. We want to work hard and concentrate on what lies ahead of us.”
Talking about tomorrow’s match, Rohit said, “We will be playing KKR at their home ground and they know the conditions better. They play well as a team here in this ground. We have to combat all the challenges and we are up for it. It will be a good game.”
He said it’s the opening slot he cherished the most as he’s been doing that for last three years.
“It’s going to be important to get the balance and position of each player right where they have batted for their state/country. I have been batting for three years as an opener and would like to continue that for the remainder of the series.
“Everything depends on the balance. If I feel that me batting at the top is not right for the team, I will come down as a middle order batsman. If it helps the team, I am ready to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” said the 28-year-old.
He said leading from the front as a captain was a big responsibility and he always cherished it.
“It will be no different this year as well. I will try and do the same. We have got a great squad and great depth in our batting. Along with me there are a few other guys who have played international cricket and proved themselves in the international circuit. We have to share the responsibility.
“It can’t be just one person to win the whole tournament. Last year we hardly had anyone in top five run getters’ list which shows everyone contributed and shared responsibility. You will have individual brilliance at times but to win the tournament it has to come form everyone,” said the skipper.
“Not just one person. For us, the past three years that is the reason we had so much success. I would expect to share the same and step up as a leader and perform in every game I can.”
Giving an update on Lasith Malinga, he said the Sri Lankan pacer who’s down with injury would not be available for a few weeks.
“Malinga is not going to be available for the next few weeks. We have to see his fitness. He will definitely not play tomorrow’s game. We are keeping a track on him. We are seeing how he is progressing with his injury.”
But at the same time, he added it’s a fantastic opportunity for Jasprit Bumrah.
“Bumrah has evolved as a cricketer in the last couple of months. When we were in Australia, he bowled pretty well and carried that performance in Asia Cup and in World T20. He is more mature now as a bowler and he knows what is expected of him.
“He is much stronger and fitter than what he was last year. We have a lot of expectations from him but at the same time as a group we don’t want to put too much pressure on him. He is still young who is trying to make a mark in international cricket. He is also trying his best to become a better cricketer.”
The captain also backed his big-hitting West Indies batsman Kieron Pollard who’s returned from an injury layoff but only to score one from eight balls in the last game.
“He (Pollard) needs to be judged after the first half of the tournament. He looks fit and wants to go out and express himself. He could not do that in the last game but a player like him cannot be written off after one game. He is a match-winner for us and he has proved it over the years. It will be no different this year,” Rohit said.
“He is raring to go and there is no doubt about it. Even a couple of years back he had the same injury with his knee. It was his left knee that time and this time it is his right. It is always tough when you come back from an injury.
“You always want to get out on the field and get a feel of it but that is never going to be easy. But he joined the team a week before and trained. He is looking good and you cannot actually judge a player like him after one game.”