Pune, May 4: Despite winning a last-ball thriller against derby rivals Pune Warriors, third placed Mumbai Indians middle-order batsmen continued to slip after scoring their second lowest total of 120.
Mumbai snatched a narrow 1-run victory with the help of impressive bowling performances by Lasith Malinga and skipper Harbhajan Singh.
Though several changes were made at the top, the duo of makeshift opener James Fraklin and iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar have been the most successful opening pair with two half-century partnerships.
Skipper Harbhajan Singh admitted that Mumbai Indians lack fire power in the middle-order and hoped West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Smith will provide the much-needed stability in the middle.
"We have tried a lot of things which have not worked for us," Harbhajan said. "Franklin gives us stability (in the top order), but we are still looking for a middle-order batsman who can fill Franklin's spot. We have Dwayne Smith (he has joined the squad as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Johnson) and hopefully he can fill that slot. Harbhajan was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
"Frankie [Franklin] and Sachin gave us a good start today, unfortunately we lost too many wickets in the middle overs. Hopefully we don't make the same mistakes and we score 170-180 without losing too many wickets."
Mumbai suffered yet another blow when all-rounder Kieron Pollard was ruled out for a week after sustaining a shoulder injury against Deccan Chargers on April 29.
"Pollard is doing well, he's recovering well, there is no tear and no muscle strain, but there's a bit of swelling in his shoulder," Harbhajan said. "We can't wait to have him back on the field as he is a great asset for us. When he clicks, he'll win us games singlehandedly. His bowling has been fantastic and we definitely miss him."
Defending a low total, Harbhajan credited his bowlers and said the wicket of Pune skipper Sourav Ganguly turned the game around."From the bowler's perspective, I think getting Michael Clarke and later on Sourav Ganguly's wicket was the turning point for us," Harbhajan said. "It wasn't a good Twenty20 wicket where batsmen could score runs at their pace. There was hardly any bounce for fast bowlers and it was difficult to rotate strike. I think the wicket played a big role in this game."
Harbhajan Singh, who claimed two crucial wickets of Jesse Ryder and Michael Clarke, slammed critics for writing him off due to inconsistent performances. "I am happy. People have criticised me as if I've never taken wickets in the 12 or 13 years I've played cricket. There are other players in this competition also who have not taken wickets either, it's not only about me," he said. "It takes a lot of character to lead the team from the front. I just want to work hard as I believe that if I could survive for these 12 years, I can still survive."