Mumbai have been plagued by injuries this season, even before the tournament started. Their lead bowler Jasprit Bumrah
has been out for months, Jofra Archer
returned home after playing five games with his recurring elbow injury, and they were also without Jhye Richardson
for the entire tournament and Tilak Varma
for a few league games.
When asked at the presentation if he thought two weeks ago that Mumbai would make it to Qualifier 2, Rohit said: "I definitely thought about it. That's what we've done over the years. People don't expect us to do certain things but we come out of all obstacles and manage our way through to get what we want. Honestly, at the start of the season, of course we knew that we had a lot of work to do compared to what happened in the last season. But we managed our work through it, we scrambled through it. Yes, it was a scrappy one but I would take that any day."
Rohit credited Mumbai's scouting team for providing them with largely unknown players who have turned to be match-winners, including Nehal Wadhera
and Akash Madhwal
, who finished with stunning figures of 5 for 5 against Super Giants. Rohit said his role as captain was to make such players feel comfortable in the team environment and tell them clearly what their role is.
"First and foremost, it's important to make them feel special, make them feel part of the team," Rohit said. "They play a lot of domestic cricket but this is a different ballgame with so many people here, a lot of pressure as well. My job as a skipper is to make sure that they feel comfortable on the ground. When they are about to execute with the bat or ball, our job - myself and the coaching staff - is to make sure that they're comfortable and very clear in their roles about what they have to do for their team. As long as you make it very clear for them, that's all [they] want.
Mumbai had made it to the playoffs largely by winning high-scoring games at Wankhede Stadium, where they won five out of seven, but the conditions in Chennai for the Eliminator were quite different with the boundaries being bigger and the pitch offering more turn and not being as batting friendly. Rohit was pleased that his team came together to script a massive win in spite of the different conditions.
"We knew coming to Chennai it's not going to be one man who will take us trough; it's going to be the whole unit who needs to come to the party and deliver at different points of time," he said. "At Wankhede, you know you need one or two individuals to step up and take the game through, but when you play on a pitch like this, conditions like these, you need everyone to come together and that's what we spoke about before coming to this game."
Akash Madhwal a 'gamechanger'
Rohit also heaped praise on Madhwal, who took the first wicket in the chase, and then dismissed Ayush Basoni and the hard-hitting Nicholas Pooran off consecutive balls in his second spell to reduce LSG to 74 for 5 before fittingly taking the final wicket.
"He was part of the season last year as a support bowler, but he didn't get to play. We knew what he had," Rohit said. "Once Jofra was gone, we needed someone to bowl at the back-end. Having seen him enough I was confident that he can get the job done for us. [He has a] lot of skills, good attitude, a lot of character as well. So that was very pleasing to see about him."
Allrounder Cameron Green
, Mumbai's most expensive player in the previous auction and the top-scorer in the Eliminator with 41 off 23, also showered Madhwal, calling him a "gamechanger".
"He's been awesome," Green said of Madhwal. "Ever since he came into our team, we kind of realised we've got someone special here. The way he carries himself out there - in his first IPL season he doesn't seem like he's overawed at all. He bowled beautifully."