Hardik says MI undone by CSK bowlers’ ‘smart approach’

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Pathirana, who missed CSK’s last two games with a hamstring niggle, was a late inclusion. And he finished with figures of 4 for 28; this included the wickets of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in his very first over, the eighth of the innings, to put the skids on Mumbai after a 70-run opening stand.

“Definitely it was gettable,” Hardik said of Mumbai’s 207-run target. “But I think they bowled pretty well, Pathirana was the difference. He came and got the wickets, at the same time they were also quite smart with their approach. They used the longer boundary well.

“It was about batting well and keeping our intent, which we did till Pathirana came in. We were on course to get the total, those couple of wickets [in his first over] we lost set us back. From there we were chasing the game.”

CSK had a number of bowlers who used their slower variations well and bowled into the pitch to extract something off the deck in the face of some dew. Shardul Thakur was taken for 33 off his first three overs, but came back superbly in his final over to concede just two to deny a set Rohit Sharma and Hardik with Mumbai needing 77 off 36.
Then Tushar Deshpande got into the act, dismissing Hardik by having him hole out to the longer boundary at deep midwicket. Soon, the equation turned into a daunting 72 off 24. Pathirana then came back for his final over to send back the big-hitting Romario Shepherd with a fuller ball that splayed his stumps.
While it was natural for Pathirana to get the spotlight after his four-for, CSK bowling consultant Eric Simons felt Thakur and Deshpande turned the game. “The unsung heroes tonight were Tushar and Shardul,” Simons said at the post-match press conference. “Shardul bowled one of the best overs I have ever seen. At that stage they were looking at 12s-13s an over, the game’s very much in the balance. He bowls the over and it goes up at 14. The game turned there.

“Matheesha will get a lot of accolades and he deserves it because of the way he bowled and the breakthroughs he gave us. But those two gentlemen did extremely well for us to push the rate out of reach out of MI.

“Tushar is a very intelligent bowler. Our conversations are around his tactics, his understanding of conditions and oppositions. One of the things we try and do is make sure bowlers have clarity when they arrive at game and they know exactly what they have to do and also understand the tactics. So not just what the tactic is but also why it is like that. And he has a very clear understanding of the tactic and also why it is like that.”

That CSK’s bowlers found themselves with 206 to defend was down to Shivam Dube’s 38-ball 66 and Dhoni’s cameo – including three sixes in the final over. For much of Dube’s innings, Hardik held his spinners back and preferred to go with pace into the wicket. Offspinner Mohammad Nabi bowled three overs for 19, while Shreyas Gopal, their legspinner, bowled just one over.

“It was about what was best at that point,” Hardik said of his tactic to hold back his spinners. “In hindsight we can see how we could’ve used our spinners and done something different, but in the longer term I like to play with what I can work with, that’s percentage cricket. On that wicket, for seamers, it was much more difficult for him [Dube] to do what he did [to pacers] than to the spinners.”

The defeat was Mumbai’s fourth in six games. It broke a sequence of two straight wins. Currently eighth on the table, they now get on the road for four away fixtures and are in need of a big second half to remain in contention for the playoffs.

In looking for this, Hardik wants the team to keep it simple. “We just need to keep our intensity high, be smart about our plans,” he said. “If we can do that, we can get the goal we want.”

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