We treated it like a final - Rohit
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma has hailed the strength of character his team showed to secure second spot in the league and set up a clash against Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier on Tuesday. Mumbai beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by nine wickets in a virtual knockout because the winner of that game was going to jump straight to second place.
"Ricky Ponting and myself spoke about this game as being a final for us," Rohit told iplt20.com. "Had we lost this game, we would have gone home. Now, we've got to do what we have been doing over the last five games. Every time you go into the game and come out of it, you've got to think how you can improve at least by 10%. We need a little more effort going into the next game.
"This just shows the character of the Mumbai Indians. We have created an atmosphere inside the dressing room that no matter what situations we are in, we never have to put our head down. We just wanted to prove to ourselves that we are much better than the results. We did exactly that and look at us now, in the top two in the table at the end of the league stage."
Reflecting on the four-match losing streak at the beginning of the tournament, Rohit said they had not played to their potential. With the help of the support staff, he said, they fought back and won five matches on the trot, before losing one and then winning two more to qualify for the playoffs.
"When we were losing at the start of the tournament, we were not playing to our potential," Rohit said. "We always knew we had a lot of talent and ability in the dressing room and it was all about getting that game to the fore. Sometimes when you lose, the guys in the team tend to drift away a little bit but the support staff did a fabulous job of holding everyone together. For us, we have finished one tournament and enter into a fresh tournament now. If we play to our potential this is what we can do.
"As a captain, as a leader it is very important for me to remain positive no matter what happens on the field. The message was clear - whatever had happened had happened and you couldn't change it and the best way to come out of it was to prepare for the following games. I wanted to lead from the front."
Mumbai now have the benefit of facing table-toppers Super Kings at home.
"Finishing in the top two obviously gives us a chance to play fearlessly. We have been in this situation before in 2013 where we played against the same opposition, qualified in the top two and we had another chance."