Rohit Sharma on what makes Mumbai Indians 'a different team'
Mumbai captain believes squad depth and clear-cut roles are reasons behind their continued dominance
The Mumbai Indians captain, Rohit Sharma, suggested that approaching match situations in a "different way" to other teams was one of the principles on display as his side beat the Delhi Capitals to qualify for their sixth IPL final.
On Thursday, Mumbai lost Rohit for a duck in the second over and then the wickets of Suryakumar Yadav and Kieron Pollard in consecutive overs left them four down for 101 in the 13th. They eventually got to 200 for the loss of only one more wicket.
"I said it at the toss as well, we never have any target in mind because we are a different team and we want to play in a different way," Rohit said at the post-match presentation. "We wanted to just take it as it comes. We wanted to start well in the powerplay. Having lost the wicket of myself in the second over was not a great sign. But like I said, Quinton and Surya took the momentum towards us and from there it was just ticking the boxes, rotating the strike. And we knew towards the back end we have power and we can accelerate towards the back end. And that's exactly what happened."
Quinton de Kock made a 25-ball 40, most of which came in a second-wicket stand of 62 with Yadav, off 37 balls. But between his wicket at 7.4 overs and that of Pollard's at 12.2, Mumbai managed only 23 runs as R Ashwin, in particular, stopped the bleeding for the Capitals. Rohit said that at that point, the message for the settled batsman in the middle - the in-form Ishan Kishan - was to be as positive as he could in order to swing the momentum back in their favour. Kishan went on to make a 30-ball 55, while Hardik Pandya, who joined him in the 17th over, made 37 off 14 balls.
"It's not easy when they [players] come from different countries and different franchises. So hats off to these guys who understand exactly what we want as a team and then delivering on the ground."Rohit Sharma
"In T20 we always talk about momentum. There is a reason for it. We never want the momentum to shift towards the opposition," Rohit said. "That is when the opposition can come back into the game. Ishan has been in such good form, we wanted him to just try and be positive, as much as he can. He's got solid hitting ability, we can see he's at the top of the table for six-hitting. So yeah, it was a very clear message to him. And Krunal as well. Put pressure on the bowler, please do not be afraid of doing so. Just got with the instinct, and that's exactly what these two batsmen are [known for]."
Crucial to sustaining such an approach is squad depth and clear-cut roles for players, something that all three of Mumbai's lower-middle order enforcers - Pollard and the Pandya brothers - have alluded to at different points in the tournament about their own roles. Rohit pointed to the role-setting Mumbai do, and the strength of versatility in their ranks as evidenced by their continued dominance despite having to switch up the batting order from time to time. Kishan, for instance, has excelled both as an opener and at No. 4 this season.
"You play with 11 members and all are different. So you've got to maximise all those guys in the best possible way you can," he said. "Having such a versatile squad, it gives me the option of changing the batting order. And at times, if I want to rotate the bowlers, I can do that as well. The guys do understand their roles.
"It's not easy if you're not batting in certain positions, but we made it clear right at the start of the tournament that this is how the team is going to play and the guys are happy with that."
Teams that have chased have held a clear advantage in the latter stages of the tournament, but Mumbai's bowlers exposed the sizable gulf between them and the second-placed team - nullifying the conditions - when they reduced Capitals to 0 for 3. It was the first instance of that scoreline in IPL history.
"When you have bowlers like that, it makes life very easy for the captain," he said. "And being in form - that is the most critical part. [Jasprit] Bumrah and [Trent] Boult, they were in solid form, executing exactly what the team wants.
"When they [the bowlers] go and play for different countries, it's different planning, and over here it's a different plan. So I'm glad that these guys are sticking to that plan. It's not easy when they come from different countries and different franchises. So hats off to these guys who understand exactly what we want as a team and then delivering on the ground."