It was difficult to start again in the UAE: Rohit Sharma on MI’s dismal show

Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma has said the Covid-enforced break and injuries to some players when the Indian Premier League (IPL) was moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following its suspension in May, were some of the reasons for the five-time champions’ dismal performance this year.

On Friday, young batter Ishan Kishan (84) and Suryakumar Yadav (82) played outstanding knocks as Mumbai Indians scored a mammoth 235/9, which was way beyond Sunrisers Hyderabad’s reach as the five-time champions won by 42 runs. But the victory was not enough as the five-time IPL champions bowed out of this edition of the IPL.

Asked whether MI had gone for a change in strategy when the tournament shifted to UAE, Sharma said it was not the reason for the poor performance here.

“No, there was no change in strategy. We knew about the conditions. We won the title last year in the UAE. We had also played well here. We won two back-to-back matches in Delhi in the first leg of IPL and we also wanted to play more matches but unfortunately, because of whatever was happening in the country, there was a break and all of us had to depart,” said Sharma.

“We had to go back home but when we came here there were some injuries, some players from our first eleven missed the first two or three matches. But, in spite of that I know we had to perform well. We did not perform well this year. We were inconsistent in our performance. If you are inconsistent, it becomes very difficult to qualify for the playoffs.

“But again, the way we have played in the last two or three years, we should be proud of ourselves. We were back-to-back champions in the last two years. This year we were not consistent enough and because of that we couldn’t qualify,” added Sharma.

The skipper conceded Mumbai Indians had difficulty starting all over again in the UAE and the side “didn’t come together as a group” initially.

“To be honest, yes, it was difficult to start. Like I said, we had a couple of injuries in the squad, among the guys who go out to play usually. Those guys were missing. We just didn’t play as a team to start with and collectively, as a group, we didn’t come together. That was the main reason for us not qualifying.

“When you’ve to win games, championships, everyone has to win collectively together. That is what we’ve been doing successfully in the last few years, that’s the hallmark of this team, to come collectively and perform. We don’t rely on one or two individuals at any given stage. We always believe in everyone coming together and chipping in with those performances. That didn’t happen this year.

“That was a bit disappointing. But again, I don’t want to take anything away from the guys. We have had two successful campaigns, back to back, this wasn’t our year.”