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Getting into the groove: Shikhar

The margin of victory was 15 runs, but Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Shikhar Dhawan admitted that he was a bit nervous towards the end.

Chasing 173 for victory, the Mumbai Indians required 27 off the last two overs. With Kieron Pollard looking in great form and the unpredictable Harbhajan Singh giving him company, the Mumbai Indians could have reached the target with a few big hits.

But that didn’t happen as Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a good 19th over, conceding seven runs, and Irfan Pathan bowled an even better last over in which he gave away just four runs and removed dangerman Pollard off the very first ball as well. Dhawan, obviously, was happy with the performance of his bowlers.

Dhawan’s counterpart, Rohit Sharma, was understandably frustrated as the Mumbai Indians, the defending champions, lost their fifth match on the trot and thus ended the UAE leg of IPL VII winless.

Excerpts

Shikhar Dhawan: It was a really tight game and we were a bit nervous towards the end. There was a lot of pressure on the bowlers… But they held their nerves and delivered the goods today. Steyn and Bhuvi did well to restrict them in the end. I am really impressed with their performance.

The only reason I kept Irfan Pathan for the last over is because I wanted both Steyn and Bhuvi to finish their full quota of overs. They are our main wicket-taking bowlers and if they could scalp one or two wickets, Mumbai Indians’ rhythm would have got disrupted. That’s what happened when Steyn got the wicket of (Aditya) Tare and Bhuvi dismissed Harbhajan (Singh).

Irfan then came on to bowl the last over and got the wicket of the dangerous (Kieron) Pollard. We were a bit relieved after we dismissed him.

We are getting into the groove and we need to keep improving.

The crowd was really nice in the UAE and the wickets were also good to bat on. When we return home, we will try and continue in the same fashion. We know the conditions back home and we will try to exploit them.

Rohit Sharma: Obviously, it’s frustrating… Things are not falling into place. We started off really well today, getting those two early wickets. We had spoken about getting wickets during the middle stages because if we couldn’t, we would have been out of the game then. As they had eight wickets in hand, a big score was always on the cards.

We wanted to know the score and bat according to the situation. That’s why we opted to field first. Besides, batting first hasn’t worked for us so far. So we decided to do something different.

From hereon, to make a comeback, we need to win all our matches. We have to stay positive, stay tight as a group and see what we can do in home conditions… And, of course, it was not at all a great birthday for me.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (MoM): Swing is my strength… I always rely on swing to get wickets. I was looking to bowl well with the new ball… And things really came off well for me.

Steyn is mentoring us very well… Whenever we are finding it difficult, we ask him for advice and he gives us good suggestions.

My plan was to bowl yorkers to Pollard. I knew that he will try to slog and if I bowl length balls, I would get hit. So I tried only for the yorkers.

As I said, swing is my strength and that was how I got Rohit. I am really satisfied with the way I have bowled. My job is to get wickets at the start and I have been able to do that… Still, I feel I need to improve on my performance. Steyn and I complement each other really well. We know each other’s strengths and try to bowl in tandem.

Dale Steyn: I won’t say that we are disappointed with our overall performance in the UAE leg. In fact, we won two matches on the trot and if we can go on playing like this in the upcoming matches, we can make the knockout round easily.

We didn’t make a good start at all… But the guys have pulled their socks up and have been playing good cricket. We have been playing positive cricket throughout the tournament. May be some of the results didn’t go our way, but still we didn’t lose heart and came back strongly. There is a good atmosphere in the dressing room. The guys always try to give their best.