First a disclaimer: This is not written in anguish that a side lost from a winning position after the great Sachin Tendulkar had played a valiant role with the bat.
It is no secret that Tendulkar could not make a successful captain. Yet the compulsions of being an iconic player of a side that is a bit less heavy on stalwarts may have prompted him to be the captain of Mumbai Indians or maybe he had his reasons of taking up the role, we will never know.
But throughout the IPL campaign so far, one image that been very striking or rather the absence of it, is the smile and the boyish enthusiasm on Tendulkar’s face when he is on the field.
It seems evident that Tendulkar is taking too much pressure onto himself. Not once have we seen him celebrating with his child-like glee even if he himself has taken a splendid catch at a very crucial moment. But by not being his natural self, he is not doing much by way of motivating his team either.
That as a captain can be harmful. It was evident from the way that Harbhajan Singh came out wondering what his role in the team was. That a senior guy like Bhajji needs to be told is another matter but the fact is, Tendulkar expects everyone to know and perform their roles like a genius and they need no telling. With another failed captain and introvert Shaun Pollock as bowling coach, the odds that the bowlers are on their own are very much likely.
On a track like the one against Royals, everyone knew spinners do well. Which is why Warne went in for only two medium pacers. And what does Tendulkar and the Mumbai think-tank do?
They go in for the usual combination, rely on the misfiring Harbhajan and ignore Sanath Jayasuriya, the bowler. Jayasuriya has also bowled in the death many times in his 400-plus long ODI career, the second highest after Tendulkar, but he gets only one over – the last one (probably for the lack of options).
Worse, you take the Matara Mauler out of his favourite opening slot. Put two greenhorns like Ajinkya Rahane and Yogesh Takawale in the top along with Dwayne Bravo, who is a finisher and certainly not a top order batsman. Even JP Duminy, who is in form but takes time to settle down, should not be batting beyond No 3 or 4 especially when a wicket goes down quickly.
The batting order was a stringful of errors just when seniors like Tendulkar and Jayasuriya needed to step up and take the responsibility of grabbing the bull by the horns. Instead, they stepped back, a step that could now hurtle them to their peril unless captain Tendulkar can make amends.
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