Mumbai: Mumbai Indians' captain Harbhajan Singh attributed poor shot selection of his top-order batsmen as the reason behind his team's humiliating loss against Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League game here on Monday. Mumbai were shot out by Delhi for a mere 92 runs and the visitors overhauled the target with 31 balls to spare to register a seven-wicket win and Harbhajan laid the blame on the poor show by his batsmen.
"Yes, the score was low. There was some bad selection of shots. We lost [a] lot of wickets in the first six overs to be 20-odd for 2, which was the main cause of not achieving whatever we wanted to on the score front. We lost the game in the first six overs," the 31-year-old off-spinner said in the post-match press conference.
"It was difficult for us to score runs as we continued to lose wickets. We lost Dinesh Karthik early on. [Openers] Davy Jacobs and [Richard] Levi did not give us the start we were looking for. Rohit [Sharma] was looking good, but unfortunately he also got out. We were not able to rotate the strike and also giving away wickets. That was the turning point in the game," he explained.
The home team, put in to bat, slumped to 5 for 2 in 3.1 overs and then slid further into the hole to be 44 for 6 after 10.2 overs, before recovering a bit. But the final tally on a good, bouncy Wankhede Stadium track was well below par for the course.
Harbhajan, who top-scored with 33 from 22 balls, stopped short of calling it reckless batting, even though poor shots were played and also a foolish attempt for a non-existent run led to Ambati Rayudu's dismissal. "What do you mean by that [reckless batting]?" he shot back. Rohit was batting well; unfortunately he got out to a ball which was supposed to go for four. Anyway, I think he's been doing great for the team. Rayudu got run out. Apart from that, the first two wickets were important," Harbhajan said.
Harbhajan praised Delhi's left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem for his bowling during the Powerplay overs but insisted that he did not do anything extraordinary by way of getting turn or beating the batsmen in flight. "Of course, we let him bowl those three overs. We played rash shots against him. It wasn't something special he did. He was not spinning the ball much, nor the flight trajectory was really great. Still you need to have a big heart to bowl in [the] Powerplay and he did a tremendous job for Delhi. But I think we should take the blame for not batting well against him. I don't think he bowled any special, but we batted poorly," the veteran of 98 Tests and 229 ODIs said.
Since the IPL season opener against Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai have not had a solid start but Harbhajan hoped the problem would be solved once Sachin Tendulkar returns to the team. "Of course, it will be nice to have Sachin Tendulkar back. I'm sure he will be back by the next game if nothing goes wrong by the net session. If he is batting with any of the foreigners, it makes it easier for them to score runs. He can take a lot of pressure from the other partner," he said.
Tendulkar has not played a game after getting hit on the finger in the IPL opener against Chennai but has started batting against throw-downs in the training sessions.
Asked about the absence of key pacer Lasith Malinga from the game, Harbhajan said the Sri Lankan was given a break as his back did not feel as good as before. He said Malinga would be available for the next home game on April 29. "He's okay, but his back is not the same as it was in the last game, so we wanted to give him a break for this game as it's a long tournament. We don't want him to get hurt in playing all these games. Hopefully, he will be fine for the next game," Harbhajan said.
The Mumbai skipper felt the hard-hitting West Indian Kieron Pollard needs to bat higher up in the order to play his natural game. "We want Pollard to go and play freely. Even though he got out [early] today [Monday], I don't mind [it] as he was the guy who got us out [of trouble] in the last game. I don't want Pollard to change his game."