After two straight comprehensive defeats, Mumbai Indians faced a test of character which they have responded to magnificently. In many ways, I feel the last over win away to the Kolkata Knight Riders proved to be the ideal tonic in helping them take on the Chris Gayle led Royal Challengers Bangalore and go on to complete a morale boosting win.
Disappointing batting and bowling performances had led to their capitulation against Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils respectively. Against Kolkata and particularly the Royal Challengers, Mumbai showed that they had sorted out their issues in both departments although success has ironically come at the cost of skipper Ricky Ponting selflessly opting to drop himself in the last two games.
I’ve played enough with Ricky to know what a great team player he is. You bet he would rather be playing than not, but he’s always been one to put the team’s interests before his own.
He would be the first to recognize that he hasn’t enjoyed the run he would have liked to thus far, and since he has underlined the importance of striking the right balance within the team, he obviously reckons that for the moment at least, the team is stronger without him. It surely will be interesting to see how long they stick with this combination, though clearly it’s a winning one for now.
Getting the wicket of Chris Gayle was certainly a key first step towards the win over Bangalore and Harbhajan’s celebration surely amused all those who witnessed it. He’s always been a different personality but then it’s largely down to the fact that he’s a very competitive cricketer who likes to occasionally get in the face of the opponent. That’s the sort of player you want in your side because he’s able to inject that mentality into his teammates.
Young Dhawal Kulkarni also produced an inspired bowling performance in his first game for Mumbai this season as he effectively broke the backbone of Bangalore’s fearsome batting lineup with the scalps of three world class players in Dilshan, Kohli and de Villiers. His heroics just enhance an already formidable bowling attack which is welcome news for Mumbai going forward.
The Kings XI Punjab come visiting today and while they remain a dangerous team, their four wins and four defeats from the eight games they’ve played say a lot about their lack of consistency. Adam Gilchrist hasn’t quite been able to get going which has clearly been a setback for them.
While it’s worth noting that they have triumphed away from home on two occasions, more than Rajasthan and Bangalore have managed, Mumbai should avoid falling victim to the complacency trap and their last two performances more than justify them as favourites for this one.
Professional Management Group