CLT20 2013: Mumbai Indians have learnt to peak at the right moment

Mumbai Indians won against Highveld Lions and Perth Scorchers, and shared points with Otago Volts, which helped them reach the second spot in the group based on net run-rate © IANS

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 champions Mumbai Indians came into their own after romping into the semi-finals of the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) 2013 with a smashing victory. Abhijit Banare looks at the key performers and match-winners ahead of the semi-finals of the CLT20.

Stiff targets set in an inconsequential match situation appear next to impossible to achieve. However, the same target with an end-result attached to it influences the team to adopt a different mindset altogether. Mumbai’s target of 150 in 14.2 overs was similar to India chasing 320 in less than 40 overs against Sri Lanka at Hobart. Left with just one way to sneak through to the semis, Mumbai did it in style. The side with multiple match-winners peaked at the moment when it really mattered.

Key performers:

Dwayne Smith

Dwayne Smith has made a huge difference in the Mumbai batting at the top. While Smith is known for losing his wicket with reckless shots, over a period of time since IPL 2013, he has shaped himself into a mature batsman who plays according to the situation rather than blindly attacking the bowlers. While he went after the bowling against Perth, he shaped his innings well against Highveld Lions, batting cautiously and the increasing the tempo — or in simple words, adopting the Chris Gayle school of batting.

Rishi Dhawan

Not much has been spoken Rishi Dhawan; however, the Himachal Pradesh player is the most economical bowler for Mumbai in this tournament along with Nathan Coulter-Nile. Ideally, in the absence of Lasith Malinga, the Mumbai pace attack may not come across as threatening, but Dhawan and Coulter-Nile’s accuracy have helped the IPL champions a lot. Dhawan’s abilities with the bat aren’t anything less but we have not seen much of it as of now.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma’s supreme batting abilities have been discussed and written at length, but as a skipper he has scripted his own success taking over from Ricky Ponting. Since he took over the captaincy in the latter half of the IPL, he just had to ensure Mumbai keep playing as a team. But Rohit has time and again showed good maturity in leading the team and handling the players well.

Apart from the above three, Nathan Coulter-Nile stored his best for the right occasion and delivered in a crunch game against Perth Scorchers by bagging three for 19. Some of the other effective players include Mitchell Johnson whose searing pace has been noticed this season.

The main positive from the must-win game against the Scorchers was the hunger to win the match. With the insertion of Maxwell, the team had given itself the best opportunity to win. In context of the game, having even one batsman less would have made that little difference which could have pushed them out.

Despite all the positives, the team needs to be wary of being too dependent on selected match-winners like Kieron Pollard and Rohit. Even the spin bowling needs to be addressed with Harbhajan Singh looking completely off colour. While talking about Sachin Tendulkar, who is considered sacred among his fans, the bitter truth is his presence is affecting scoring rate. If someone like Rohit, who opens for India in limited overs, moved up the order for Mumbai, they would have been a much stronger side at the top.
 
As the team moves into the semis, it will carry a huge sack of confidence after the thumping over Perth. And as far as the semi-final is concerned, Mumbai will be keen to make good use of the spinners — Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha — on the slowish pitch at Kotla. At the same time one should not forget some impact players like Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu, and the difference they can make to a match.
 
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)