Bond content with all-round performances

With the press lined up in front of him, Mumbai Indians’ bowling coach Shane Bond sat down to answer the questions thrown at him by the media. The clash against Kings XI Punjab only a day away and with the team on a 4-game winning run, Bond looked upbeat about his team’s chances.

To get the ball rolling, the former New Zealand international was asked about the pitch at Indore. “I think the wicket looks like it’s going to be a good wicket, there’s nice grass covering – it’s pretty hot and dry here underneath.”

Kings XI Punjab are unbeaten in their previous two outings in Indore. “The bounce is something we’re going to need to adjust to.” Bond continued, “We’re not expecting the same sort of bounce as the Wankhede. And the boundaries here are a lot smaller. Even though those boundaries are reasonably small, we’re aware that the scores here for the teams batting first in the last couple of games have been around 150-160 and Kings chased it down reasonably comfortably, so we’ve got to be careful that we make a good assessment on the day of the game, and not get too carried away with the boundaries and expect a game where we try to score around 200-220. If you end up playing and playing well, you’ll probably score a high score on this ground.”

Four wins on the trot has seen morale at an all-time high within the camp. When asked about what he would put down the recent success of the team to Bond replied, “Contributions from everyone are important. We’ve done well in pressure moments and a couple games where we probably shouldn’t have won, we got over the line.
Individuals have put their hands up in key times. And I think we’ve got a well-rounded side, with six genuine bowlers. I’m lucky I feel like I’ve got a bowling attack where there’s no let-up. With the Pandya brothers, we’ve got two genuine all-rounders. We’ve got a long, strong batting line-up as well. We feel like we’ve got all bases covered. We’re preparing well, the guys train exceptionally hard and you hope that combination means you get on a roll and get confidence up and that results in wins. And, so far it has.”

In pressure-cooker situations, the team has come out strong. Something that hasn’t gone unnoticed in the media. When asked about handling pressure, Bond responded, “From my point of view, obviously the first thing is being well-prepared, understanding the opposition and the ground that you’re playing on and not being intimidated by the players or the conditions that you’re playing on. We’re very aware of the skills that we have within the team and you’ve got to have the guts to take some risks in this format and encourage guys to do that.”

“A combination of those things as well as consistency in selection and giving the guys the confidence that one bad performance doesn’t mean that they’ll sit on the bench means a lot. Obviously, credit goes to Mahela Jayawardene for that, you can see the benefits – the guys have got confidence, confident that even if they have a poor performance, the coach backs them and that’s resulted in our good performances so far.’’

Thursday’s opponents haven’t hit the right notes recently and are winless in their previous three outings. When asked about the strategy to beat Punjab, Bond answered, “The same as every other team. There are teams in this competition that you can point out, you might call the big guns or the teams that everybody worries about. We try to treat all teams the same. Just because we’ve beaten the champions Sunrisers, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Royal Challengers Bangalore doesn’t mean that we can afford to let our guard down against a team that has lost three games in a row.”

“We’ve paid the same diligence to every team. We respect the conditions, we know there are world class players in the opposition and they’re hard to beat here. We’ve planned and prepared the same way and we’ll turn up and know that if we bring the right attitude on the day and execute our skills, we’ll have a pretty good chance of winning.’’

The focus then switched to captain Rohit Sharma. Having scored an unbeaten 40 against the Gujarat Lions, Rohit’s form seemed to have turned a corner. The media then went on to ask Bond about Rohit’s rise in form, “He’s (Rohit) just been out of touch I think. We all know Rohit’s a world class player. The last game has seen him comeback into form. The beauty for us was that despite Rohit not scoring runs, we’re still winning games. Once he steps up and he’s going to step up, he’s too good a player not to start scoring runs, it just adds to the depth and strength of the batting line-up. Rohit’s been training hard and we knew he’d come into the tournament with a lack of cricket. We were confident as the tournament went on he would get better and I think we’ll see that from now on.”

Finally, Shane Bond shrugged away the importance of the toss and maintained faith in the team’s ability to perform under any circumstance, “I’m confident in what we do. If we bat first and if we get a big score, we’ve got a strong bowling attack. If we chase, we’ve got a good batting line-up. There’s been a real preference for teams to chase here so far but from my point of view, I’m not too bothered with batting or bowling first. I don’t think there’s going to be a dew factor here, it’s hot and dry so whatever we do, we’ll be pretty confident in doing it.”



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