People talk of Mumbai-Delhi as one of the biggest rivalries in Indian cricket. That's certainly true, but even Delhi have not got onto my nerves as much as KKR, starting right from the team owner. Which is why I think the fake IPL player is one of the best things that happened to the IPL (since Mumbai haven't won it yet). Which is also why defeating KKR gives me a tad greater pleasure than defeating DDD!
I did not get to watch the game, so I cannot comment on the details, but what caught my eye was the intent at the start. Tendulkar simply raced off the blocks like ... (well, when was the last time he did that anyway?) and when Jayasuriya joined in, it looked like absolute mayhem. In fact, judging from the cricinfo commentary, the intensity looked good all through the game. An extremely clinical performance.
There are lots of things that look right about Mumbai. Both Jayasuriya and Tendulkar look in great nick, and when they get it right, it will end up being a royal hammering for the opposition. The bowling looks very good as well, and Malinga in particular is extremely hard to get away, with those toe crushing yorkers of his. The fielding has some scope for improvement, especially in reducing the number of misfields, and in the throwing technique, but otherwise it looks very good as well.
The only negative point is the continued below-par performance of the middle order. The potential is clearly there, but for some reason, they haven't fired yet. It is not concerning yet, as it is still very early days, but I'd love to see them turn in that one performance that will cause the other teams to start sweating. Apart from that, it was a near perfect day. There was a great opening partnership, we batted the opposition out of the game, and ruthlessly dismantled them in the field.
I was talking to Homer yesterday about the thin batting order that Mumbai have. Pinal Shah coming in at number 9 means that the team is already a batsman short, and it does end up placing a lot of pressure on the tail, especially in close games like against Deccan. My suggestion was to promote Bhajji up the order so that the regular batsman are batting in the final overs, and what do you know, Tendlya actually promoted Bhajji up the order! (I think Homer is sneaking information to the team and taking credit for it - he claims he does that by telepathy, having stolen the means of that from Buchanan - but as long as Mumbai wins, I don't really care. More power to Homer and his activities!)
While it is a brilliant idea (obviously!), I think it was used at the wrong time. The reason for promoting Bhajji is to have your regular batsman batting in close run chases, and with 9 wickets in hand with 7 overs to go, it wasn't really needed today. Unfortunately, the surprise element will be lost the next time Bhajji comes up the order. But that doesn't mean it can't work either. Sadly, I did not communicate this to Homer yesterday. If only!
I think this is a good time to start working on squad rotation. Obviously, no one will play all the games, and this is as good a time as any to try out the bench strength. Shikhar Dhawan looks a bit out of touch and so he can be given a break, with Rahane getting a couple of games. Likewise, rotate Jayasuriya/Duminy/Bravo with Napier/McLaren/Ashraful to give them a hit in match situations. And later, give Zak and Slinga a break.
Next up are the bubblies led by the Prince of Patiala. While a tougher game than KKR, it should still be a win for Mumbai. While their batting is fairly good (though not good enough for our bowling), their bowling looks very thin. It is a potential banana skin, given how Mumbai lost to Deccan, but Mumbai should avoid the same mistakes and come out on top here.
The last post - It should have been this, and shown up here, but didn't. So here goes.
7 years ago