Mumbai Indians will be looking to clinch their fourth Indian Premier League (IPL) title at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday. MI will go up against Chennai Super Kings and will be looking to beat them for the fourth time this season.
Ahead of the final on Sunday, MI’s captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Mahela Jayawardene spoke to reporters at the pre-match press conference.
While elaborating on the hype surrounding the final, Rohit opined: “The reason for the hype around MI and CSK is because they have been so successful in winning the championship. I see all the teams as a threat. You have to be good on that day. Most of the season we have done that. There are times where we haven’t and we lost those games. To have a good day we have the preparations and the plan has been laid out for everyone to accept and move forward.”
Head coach Mahela Jayawardene then explained the similarities between MI and CSK. “Mumbai and Chennai have established a core group of players and have kept them going. These core group of players have been Indian domestic players and Indian internationals. I think you can build the team around them. If you analyse other teams, you will realise that has been the key. In the case of Mumbai Indians, I believe we have invested money into finding new talents and that talent has been groomed through the system and our core players as well,” he said.
Jayawardene continued: “It is about the guys who we feel will improve Mumbai and will fit into this core group of players, that is the most important thing. We need players who understand the culture and fit in. This applies to local players and the foreign ones as well. Once you have those kind of players, it becomes very easy to play as a group and I always believe that teams can win tournaments, championships, individuals can only win matches. You need good teams, good groups to make that happen, this is something that we have been trying to achieve.”
The former Sri Lankan skipper also shared his thoughts on MI’s consistency over the years. “Well I think it’s just the setup. The group of players we have, the quality, the hunger the guys have for success. I think we’ve created a culture not just now, but I think over the years Mumbai Indians have created that culture. We have tried to keep a group of players who have that identity and the passion to play for the team. So, I think that has helped,” Jayawardene said.
“Whenever the youngsters are introduced, they walk into the culture as well, so I think it’s quite a unique transition for them and they play some fearless cricket which is important in a tournament like this. Like Rohit said we do simple things and we want to play consistent cricket, we allow guys to go out and enjoy themselves. As long as they are enjoying the challenges, you get good results.” he added.
When asked about what role the venue would play in the contest, Rohit said: “It is a neutral venue for both the teams, we both have played here before as well. So, we are very much aware of the conditions and the dimensions of the ground as well. I do not think that is going to play a major factor. The important thing will be to assess the pitch as quickly as we can and see what will be the ideal score on that particular pitch, whether we bat first or bowl first what will be the ideal score, we will need to get and the other (thing) will be the ideal score we want to restrict the other team to.”
On captaincy, Rohit added: “I am very lucky to have a team like the one we have with the staff that we have, it makes my job very easy. They (staff) are the ones that sit in the team rooms and plan what we need to do as a team, what works for our team and then the plans are laid out for me to choose and take. What has worked for me is, keeping things as simple as possible, understanding the opposition, understanding the venue, the pitch, conditions, etc. I believe in strategies, I believe in planning, those are the things that have worked, not just for me but the team as well. There is a fine line between things working out for a captain and things working out for the team, it always has to go hand in hand.”
Our skipper also touched upon the evolution of Hardik Pandya. “It’s a natural progression. If I see it that way, because three years ago Hardik Pandya was finding his way into IPL cricket and (it was) any other up and down season. And since then he’s played for India, he’s played Test cricket for India… and being in a group like this with the Indians players, naturally you will learn new things. So that natural progression has come to the IPL as well. When you consider 24-25 year olds, they’re still learning the game. He’s a confident player and we use him as an all-rounder, so everything’s been going well for him and it’s brilliant and that sort of a season (for him),” Rohit said.
(Source: Article originally appeared in Mumbai Indians official website.