Monday, May 11, 2009

I am ready to rise to the challenge | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya



MUMBAI Indians continue to perform below expectations even as we enter the last 10 days of the tournament. However, in tournaments like these you must not make the cardinal mistake of panicking. Things are not clicking, but it takes only one spark to change things around.

Last year we started dreadfully, but then found our feet and nearly clinched a semifinal berth. This year we are again behind the leaders, but our tournament is far from
over with four games remaining after the game against the Royal Challengers.

I’d expect eight wins to guarantee a semifinal berth and seven wins to be sufficient for us considering that we also picked up a point from a “no result’’. Last year that was exactly what lifted Delhi above us into the knock-out stages.

After our win in Port Elizabeth, we need three wins out of four matches against Kings XI, Jaipur, Chennai and Delhi. All good teams, but so are we when we play to our potential.

The first of these clashes against Kings XI Punjab will be an intriguing battle. They’ve struggled a little bit of late with their bowling, especially in the latter overs, but they did a far better job against Team Hyderabad and the return of Brett Lee, a talismanic figure, is obviously good for them.

They’ll be worried though about the fitness of Mahela (Jayawardene). He has visibly grown in confidence as the tournament has progressed and he now has a very cool head which
allows him to marshal their middle order. If his hamstring injury is serious, it would be a huge blow. Whether Mahela plays or not though, they have some dangerous players. We have not seen Luke Pomersbach in this year’s event, but he is a big hitter and cannot be underestimated. Then they have proven match winners like Yuvraj and Sanga.

For us, the key will be more batting support for JP (Duminy). He has been the cornerstone of our batting but the rest of the top and middle order have not provided sufficient back-up. Some of that responsibility will fall on me and I feel ready to rise to that challenge. The management went for a new strategy on Friday night and left me out. As a player, that was disappointing.

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