Mumbai Indians (MI) are set to play two more games in Chennai, before moving on to Delhi for their next leg. After going down by a narrow margin in the first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), MI have bounced back well to win their next two games - against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 10 runs, followed by a 13-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).
A score of 150, batting first seems to be the mantra to success at Chepauk at the moment as the wickets get slower as the game progresses. While scoring runs at the latter end of the match has been difficult, MI coach Mahela Jayawardene reckons that the Chepauk wickets are not unplayable. "They are not unplayable wickets. They are good, competitive wickets. And adapting to challenges is always the key for any batsmen or any team. We have been consistent with that approach, it is challenging, but our bowlers have adapted pretty well," Jayawardene said ahead of the team's game against Delhi Capitals.
The former Sri Lanka captain also revealed that Hardik Pandya has not bowled as he is carrying a niggle from the One-Day International (ODI) series against England. "We were looking forward to him to be bowling this season but after those matches against England, the last ODI, I believe he picked up niggle, so that is something that we are nursing at the moment," Jayawardene said.
Jayawardene however exuded confidence that the team would be able to use Hardik's services as a bowler. "We don't want to risk it, because it is important that we make sure that he (Hardik) is in a position to comfortably come in and bowl. So hopefully in the next few weeks, with a bit of work and all that, we might see him bowling.
"It is not that we are deliberately trying to not bowl him, we would love to have him bowling, but as soon as the niggle is off and he is comfortable, we should be able to use that asset as well," he said.
But all-rounder Pandya effected key run-outs in the field for MI and the head coach attributed it to him being agile. "We have always used Hardik on the boundary line because of his speed and he has a good throwing arm and his catching ability. Last few games, because he has a niggle in the shoulder, we kept (him) in 30 yards and he has proved the value of that by picking up a few runs-outs because he is agile."
Rahul Chahar has picked seven wickets in the last two games and the head coach acknowledged the improvement the young leg-spinner has shown every year. "When we started playing him (Chahar), I believe it was the 2019 season, where he had a breakthrough season. Even in the UAE in the last season, he bowled well but he had his ups and downs, he wasn't consistent in execution, but every year we see improvement in Rahul.
"He is still a young player and he is also learning, he gets challenged by different oppositions, some top-class players, it is constant learning for Rahul, but very happy the way he has come out and he is one of our leaders in that bowling group, especially in that spin department with Krunal (Pandya), the Sri Lankan veteran said.