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Shirin Sadikot in Cape Town

A spot in semis out of our control: Pollock

MI bowling coach rues the rained out game; pins hopes on Lions’ defeat

It was a gloomy evening in Cape Town. The heavens opened up, the wind blew strongly and the Mumbai Indians left the Newlands ground gutted. After losing their first match, to the Highveld Lions, they had a few days off to rethink their game and adapt to the conditions. But just as the Mumbai Indians looked to put up a competitive score on the board against Yorkshire, rain played spoilsport and the match was washed off.

Just before leaving the ground, MI bowling coach and team mentor Shaun Pollock took time off to chat with clt20.com. The former Proteas captain and pace spearhead was seemingly disappointed as he rued his team’s reduced chances to make it to the semi-finals.

Excerpts from his interview:

This was a very important game for MI. What next?

It’s disappointing for us. The Lions have won two games and the way the schedule has been made, they play before us, which means qualification for the semi-final is out of your hands. That’s a bit sad. If they win that game, they’ll have already won three and the Sydney Sixers have won three as well. And even if we win our remaining two games, we’ll have only two and a half. We had to win this game but you can’t control the weather. Unfortunately, ours was not the first game.

First of all, tomorrow we’ll be sending our masseurs and physios to the Yorkshire team to help them sort out all the hamstring problems of their fast bowlers. We want Yorkshire to get on the park fit for their game against the Lions and surprise them. If they don’t we’re out of the tournament having played just two games and with two to go. [Shaun Pollock, of course, said all of this jokingly.]

Do you think MI’s bowling attack makes it easy for the batting team to plan their innings – see off Mitchel Johnson and Lasith Malinga and the rest gets easy?

No, it’s not that. Dhawal Kulkarni bowled really well in the last IPL game he played, against the Chennai Super Kings; so he’s a fantastic prospect. We’ve got Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard. We also have Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha, who have played international cricket; and we’ve seen in this tournament before that spinners have played a part. So no, we’re not over-dependent on Johnson and Malinga.

How much of a role will the spinners play in these conditions?

We’ve seen them bowl well. Certain teams have had good performances out of their spinners. It’s been a mixed tournament for the spinners and they’ve not been as dominating as they would have been in India. But they have played their part.

What’s going wrong with the IPL teams?

The Delhi Daredevils have won the one game they’ve played. The Chennai Super Kings haven’t played as well as they’re expected to. We have lost just one match. If you look at KKR, they have been very successful in Kolkata, where their bowling attack suits the wicket, but not here.

Do you reckon the team that has best pace attack will win the tournament?

Having a good pace attack helps when it comes to making early inroads and putting the batting team under pressure. But teams with good balance in both batting and bowling will do best. The Lions and Titans have been very good since they know the conditions here. The Sydney Sixers have flourished since the conditions in Australia are similar to what they’re here.

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