The wickets in Chennai are not unplayable but challenging being on slower side, insisted Mumbai Indians head coach Mahela Jayawardene as teams batting first have dominated the matches played at the Chepauk stadium, so far.
Out of six matches played here, thrice teams managed 150-plus score and five times the team that has batted first won the match.
The match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals was a high-scoring affair on Sunday when Virat Kohli-led side posted 204 for four to win the match by 38 runs.
“They are not unplayable wickets. They are good, competitive wickets. And adapting to challenges is always the key for any batsmen or any team. We have been consistent with that approach, it is challenging, but our bowlers have adapted pretty well,” Jayawardene said ahead of the team’s game against Delhi Capitals.
The 43-year-old former Sri Lanka batsman also said all-rounder Hardik Pandya has not yet bowled this season due to the niggle he picked up during the ODI series against England.
“We were looking forward for him to be bowling this season but after those matches against England, the last ODI, I believe he picked up niggle, so that is something that we are nursing at the moment.” Jayawardene, however, exuded confidence that the team would be able to use Hardik’s services as a bowler.
“We don’t want to risk it, because it is important that we make sure that he (Hardik) is in a position to comfortably come in and bowl. So hopefully in the next few weeks, with a bit of work and all that, we might see him bowling.
“It is not that we are deliberately trying to not bowl him, we would love to have him bowling, but as soon as the niggle is off and he is comfortable, we should be able to use that asset as well,” he said.
But all-rounder Hardik Pandya effected key run-outs in the field for MI and the head coach attributed it to him being agile.
“We have always used Hardik on the boundary line because of his speed and he has a good throwing arm and his catching ability. Last few games, because he has a niggle in the shoulder, we kept (him) in 30 yards and he has proved the value of that by picking up a few runs-outs, because he is agile.” Rahul Chahar has picked seven wickets in the last two games and the head coach acknowledged the improvement the young leg-spinner has shown every year.
“When we started playing him (Chahar), I believe it was the 2019 season, where he had a breakthrough season. Even in the UAE in the last season, he bowled well but he had his ups and downs, he wasn’t consistent in execution, but every year we see improvement in Rahul.
“He is still a young player and he is also learning, he gets challenged by different oppositions, some top-class players, it is constant learning for Rahul, but very happy the way he has come out and he is one of our leaders in that bowling group, specially in that spin department with Krunal (Pandya),” the Sri Lankan veteran said.