Pune Warriors v Mumbai Indians, IPL 2012, Pune May 3, 2012

Mumbai still looking to pad up middle order - Harbhajan

ESPNcricinfo staff

Mumbai Indians' captain Harbhajan Singh said that his side is still looking to strengthen their middle order. Mumbai Indians edged out Pune Warriors by one run on Thursday, despite their middle order imploding on a slow wicket and leaving their bowlers with just 120 to defend.

The middle order failed to build on the decent start from Sachin Tendulkar and make-shift opener James Franklin, who put on a 50-run stand for the first wicket. The duo was kept quiet by Warriors but took Ashish Nehra and Ashok Dinda for an expensive over each to ensure the run-rate did not suffer too much.

"We have tried a lot of things which have not worked for us," Harbhajan said. "Franklin gives us stability [in the top order], but we are still looking for a middle-order batsman who can fill Franklin's spot. We have Dwayne Smith [he has joined the squad as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Johnson] and hopefully he can fill that slot.

"Frankie [Franklin] and Sachin gave us a good start today, unfortunately we lost too many wickets in the middle overs. Hopefully we don't make the same mistakes [in the future] and we score 170-180 without losing too many [wickets]."

Allrounder Kieron Pollard's shoulder injury, which he sustained against Deccan Chargers on April 29, has only compounded Mumbai's woes, as he is expected to be out for another week. "Pollard is doing well, he's recovering well, there is no tear and no muscle strain, but there's a bit of swelling in his shoulder," Harbhajan said. "We can't wait to have him back on the field as he is a great asset for us. When he clicks, he'll win us games singlehandedly. His bowling has been fantastic and we definitely miss him."

Defending 120 on Thursday, Mumbai's bowlers struck regularly, ensuring Warriors failed to string together substantial partnerships. "From the bowler's perspective, I think getting Michael Clarke and later on Sourav Ganguly's wicket was the turning point for us," Harbhajan said. "It wasn't a good Twenty20 wicket where batsmen could score runs at their [usual] pace. There was hardly any bounce for fast bowlers and it was difficult [for batsmen] to rotate strike. I think the wicket played a big role in this game."

Harbhajan, who picked up two wickets in the match, took on his critics for writing him off due to a string of poor performances. "I am happy [with my performance]. People have criticised me as if I've never taken wickets in the 12 or 13 years I've played cricket. There are other players in this competition also who have not taken wickets either, it's not only about me," he said. "It takes a lot of character to lead the team from the front. I just want to work hard as I believe that if I could survive for these 12 years, I can still survive."

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  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    Why U need to comment on Sachin... We fans dont have a bit tension when he is on pitch..scores or not.. Same way for other players, We want Sachin to be at one end, and others to play freely. Bring in Levi and give him one more chance. Mumbai is gonna look stronger then. Once Pollard is back he can replace Peterson, although he has won a game for MI , his presence is not that much required as we need a batsman and not an all rounder. Mumabi is still a good team , although not the best as in 2010 or second best in last year league games.

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    Levi should be given with some extra bit of time to settle in indian conditions. Once he is away with a good start we can post some great runs on board ..... you can't always expect a player to perform in all matches and you can't judge a player from only few matches he has played ..... At the same point you can't be always keep changing the team because it also puts some mental pressure on the player to a must perform... middle order needs players who can build from a collapse as well some fire power at the end!!!!!! "At the end of the game it should be team performance"...

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    Malinga and Patel keep the screws on, singh and sachin have been flop show

  • nnnnn on May 4, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    @justin in T20's you need 4 specialist bowlers in my opinion not bowlers who can bowl a bit and bat a bit but if the bowlers can bat a bit that is an added bonus. There bowlers in my opinion should be Malinga, Harbajahn, Ohja and either munaf or RP with pollard, Franklin, dwayne smith contributing as the 5th bowler. This would be my team Tendulkar, Franklin, Sharma, Karthik, dwayne smith, Raydu, Pollard, Harbajahn, Malinga, Munaf and Ohja. This is a balanced team nice pace attack, medium pacers and spinners and also has solid batsmen and finishers at the end.

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    Harbhajan is big reason behind MI recent batting woes, somehow you get this feeling that he overrates himself as a batsman and actually considers himself to be all rounder or else I don't see any logic in him playing with 4 bowlers & 2 'bowling' allrounders in past few matches.

    Ideally 1 Attacking batsman ( Levi , Blizzard or Jacobs ) , 1 Bowler ( Malinga) & 2 Batting allrounders ( Franklin , Pollard , Smith ) should play from MI's overseas squad.

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Without malinga MI is a useless team...take out malinga n c how weak the team on paper even with big names...Gayle n malinga true match winners...

  • Ed on May 4, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    Basically saying they need another Franklin in the middle order. They want to clone you now James!! haha what a legend

  • Dimuth on May 4, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    thisara perera is a natural hitter of the ball,so he should be given free license to go after the bowling.GUD LUCK MUMBAI INDIANS!!!

  • Ivan on May 4, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    @jimbond: What do you know about Bhajji's character to make such a post? Lay off the guy - he is both a cricketing legend and a responsible human being. @Ramesh Shah: He has two test hundreds! But he's still a bowling all rounder. @zola bailey: You don't need to watch you know @Jagat Narayan: 400 test wickets is VERY classy!

  • Akhilesh on May 4, 2012, 11:36 GMT

    @Amit Lodha I think to win with a bang you need individual performances (like DD are winning on Sehwag's performances) But to win close matches you need to work as a team. MI is doing the same. If you wish to pin point you cannot say that this one performed or this one. like yesterday from PWI Minhas was clearly the lone hero. In match against Deccan the MOM award was given to steyn because you could not pick individual performance.

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