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May 3, 2012
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."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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