Quite often it is seen that teams, when on the verge of a roll, make crucial mistakes that end up hurting their ambitions in the long-term. Sports psychologists, and common sense, say that one reason for this is complacency. It is not known if the Rajasthan Royals were complacent coming into a home game against the Mumbai Indians at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, on May 19 but they surely were unable to inspire themselves to go on and clinch a win that would have enabled them to get a step closer to the playoffs.
Team composition: Mumbai made 3 changes to the team that lost the previous game against Kolkata. They dropped CM Gautam and Corey Anderson, while Lasith Malinga left for national duty. Their place were taken by Michael Hussey, Krishmar Santokie and Shreyas Gopal. Rajasthan also made a slew of changes to the team that won the last game against Delhi – out went Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Pravin Tambe and Ben Cutting and in came Unmukt Chand, Ankit Sharma, Brad Hodge and Shane Watson.
Batting: The Mumbai Indians won the toss and opted to bat first. They posted a good total of 178 for 3 wickets in their 20 overs. The opening stand of 120 between Lendl Simmons (62 from 51 balls) and the returning Hussey (56 from 39) set the platform, and later on skipper Rohit Sharma stepped on the gas to get to 40 from 19 balls.
In reply, the Royals were stopped at 153 for 8. Karun Nair emerged as the highest scorer, with 48 from 24 balls. Hodge, who was surprisingly asked to bat very low down the order, scored 40 from 30 balls and with James Faulkner (31 from 21 balls), tried to salvage the situation somewhat.
Bowling: Ankit Sharma, who opened the bowling, was the only one to pick up wickets for the RR on a day when the entire unit performed woefully short of expectations. Dhawal Kulkarni was economical (27 runs in 4 overs) but the others – Faulkner (47 runs in 4 overs), Kevon Cooper (27 runs in 3 overs) and Rajat Bhatia (39 runs in 4 overs) – had a day they would like to forget.
For the MI, Harbhajan Singh was yet again the best bowler, with 2 for 13 in 4 overs. He was complemented well by Gopal, who picked up 2 for 25 in 4 overs and Pragyan Ojha, who got 2 for 30 in 4 overs. Santokie claimed a couple of wickets as well, but went for too many runs (50 in 4).
Where do the teams go from here?
The Mumbai Indians may be down and out but at least they have found a combination that is working for them. They should make sure that the batsmen keep putting up good scores on the board on a consistent basis, as only then will the spinners and slow medium pacers, who form the crux of their attack, are able to capitalize.
The Rajasthan Royals’ team selection was surprising, to say the least, but perhaps understandable given the fact that they are almost through to the playoffs. However, their batting order was atrocious – it was hard to fathom as to why people like Ankit Sharma and Cooper were batting higher up than Hodge and Stuart Binny, and that too in a chase. While it is appreciable that the management wishes to provide everyone some chance, it is also important that there is a set batting order so that players understand their roles in the team and perform accordingly. Too much experimentation can sometimes cause greater harm than be of any use!