Mumbai India’s stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard said his team failed to grab its chances both with the bat and ball after putting Chennai Super Kings under pressure during their 20-run defeat in the first match of the UAE leg of the IPL 2021 here on Sunday.

Pollard’s bowlers had reduced CSK to 24/4 in the powerplay and with Ambati Rayudu injured after being hit on his elbow by Adam Milne, Mumbai Indians had the opportunity to restrict CSK to a low score. But they allowed opener Ruturaj Gaikwad to bat through the innings for an unbeaten 88, and he, helped by useful cameos by Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo, guided Chennai to 156/6 in 20 overs.

In response, Mumbai lost three quick wickets and though Saurabh Tiwary struck an unbeaten fifty, others failed to give him support and they fell short by 20 runs.

Pollard, who led the side as the team management decided to give regular skipper Rohit Sharma some rest, blamed his batsmen for failing to score 150+ in the match.

“Even though they got 150+, as a batting team we could’ve gotten that. Losing three wickets was a cardinal sin for us. Given the circumstances, Saurabh batted really well. We kept losing wickets at regular intervals. It was disappointing to lose the match after we had done so well at the start,” Pollard said on Sunday.

“Ruturaj batted really well. In T20 cricket, if one person bats through he can hurt you. We didn’t finish off well with the ball. Losing by 20 runs you know those were the extra runs we conceded,” he said adding the wicket was good and helped the bowlers. “Surface was good, the new ball had movement, our seamers got early wickets. But we had to continue that momentum all the way,” he added.

Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni was happy that his team managed to come out of the woods and won the match. He praised Gaikwad for his superb innings that helped them reach a defendable total.

“At 30 for 4, you want to put up a respectable score, I felt Rutu and Bravo got us more than what we expected. We thought of 140, to get close to 160 was tremendous,” he said.

“The wicket was two-paced, slightly slow to start. Also, it’s difficult if you’re batting lower down, if you don’t get a chance to see what is happening, you want to go hard. Rayudu got injured, so it was tough to come back from there but we batted sensibly and finished superbly. It was sensible for one batter to bat right through to the end.” said Dhoni.

Man of the Match, Gaikwad said it was his best knock so far and he was happy to play a role in the team’s victory.

“It was one of my top innings until now, given the pressure we were in because all the senior batsmen were out. I had to grind it out, bat till 10-12 overs, give myself time and push for 120-130, and then slowly 140-150 was possible. It was a matter of spending time in the middle,” said the 24-year-old from Pune, Maharashtra.

Asked about the backing he got from Dhoni since last year, Gaikwad said that has helped him a lot. “Mahi Bhai, everyone in the CSK management, once they back you, they don’t make you think anything but positive things. The Sri Lanka tour and preparation coming here helped a lot,” he said.

He said batting on this strip was a bit difficult as there was some assistance for the bowlers. “Initially there was seam and swing movement, but I had to take my chances against the spinners. Jaddu just came in so I had to take a chance and it came off well.”

Bravo, who played a crucial role in the win both with the bat and ball, said it was a good feeling to start the campaign with a win.

“To start our campaign with a win is a very good feeling. I’m feeling good, was trying to protect myself in the last stage of the CPL. Had one bowling session in the nets here and I felt good. Look forward to getting through four overs in the other games too.

“Batting is very important, now I bat lower down the order with a batting line-up like CSK, but it’s about trying to win key moments, capitalise on the 12 balls I get. Or if there’s 11 overs left, adjust and adapt. It’s about keeping my shape, adjusting. In five balls if you can make 20, it can make a difference like today. I have the ability to bat, can only do so much when there are few opportunities. Ruturaj batted really well, he’s a quality player. Has the appetite for runs, good to have someone like him who can steady the team and others bat around him,” Bravo said.

–IANS

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