Boucher on Mumbai's injury situation: 'Stupid to open a can of worms now'

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Chasing 234 can on any surface can be daunting. On Friday, in a knockout, Mumbai Indians had to disturb a settled batting line-up by having a formidable middle-order batter (Nehal Wadhera) open, accommodate a concussion substitute (Vishnu Vinod) for Ishan Kishan, have one of their big-hitters (Cameron Green) go off due to a blow on the elbow and yet bat with the kind of freedom that's hard to achieve when you're two down for nothing inside the first three overs.

Mark Boucher, the Mumbai head coach, felt the turn of events early in their chase was "unsettling" and they couldn't recover from the curveball thrown at them. Having just finished his maiden season as Mumbai coach, Boucher struck a conciliatory note instead, not wanting to "open a can of worms" when the hurt was still raw, instead hoping to take some "firm decisions" once the emotions were taken out of their defeat to the Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 2 in Ahmedabad.

Among the firm decisions he spoke about was to take stock of the injury situation in their bowling group and understand the "future of certain individuals from a fitness perspective" before charting the roadmap forward. For the record, the six 200-plus totals they conceded this season were the most by any team in a single edition of the IPL.

"If you lose two stars in the bowling, you're going to have a couple of holes," Boucher said. "We tried to fix it as much as possible, hopefully the guys can get over their injuries. If they can't, we may have to look at other places. To open a can of worms now will be stupid. It's important to sit back and reflect, take the emotions out of it and then take calm decisions once we understand the future of certain individuals in terms of where they are from a fitness perspective."

Boucher wasn't as somber when he spoke of their batting, not even when asked if Rohit Sharma's lack of form at the top was a hindrance. Boucher instead underlined how they looked at Rohit's approach from a batting standpoint and why it helped bring out a significant shift. The record says Rohit made 332 runs in 16 innings with just two half-centuries at a strike rate of 132.80, but Boucher felt his contribution ran a lot deeper.

"Rohit is a quality player. He led from the front with regards to driving a way we wanted to play," Boucher said. "Our batting this season was fantastic. We went out at the beginning of the season, looked at a couple of stats and felt that we could improve in certain phases of the game, and the captain is the best person to go out there and try and drive that vision. If you have a look at how we did in the powerplay and from 7-10, we really upped the scoring rate and played a positive brand of cricket that will stand us in good stead for the future. The guys will take a lot of confidence from that.

"I think with the batting, Nehal been a great find, Tilak's been a great find. They've had some influential innings through the season. On paper and form-wise, our batting looks really strong. The guys are beginning to understand their roles within the team, so I'm very happy with the batting."

At the same time, he wasn't willing to throw his bowling group under the bus. Instead, he underlined the challenges they had to face and why viewing their struggles from a traditional runs and economy-rate perspective wouldn't be doing justice.

"The bowlers, I think you have to look at it from a different perspective," he explained. "If you have a look at the totals that were scored at Wankhede and chased down, sometimes you can look at the figures and say our bowlers were going for a lot of runs. And yes, there were certain games where we could have bowled a little bit better. We've got quite an inexperienced bowling line-up. But we had some good chats and I think we improved as the competition went along.

"But to look at it just because we went over 200, we also chased a lot of scores over 200. So, anyone who comes to Wankhede will know that it is very much a batting-friendly pitch and ground. I feel sorry for the bowlers at times, going for scores over 200 can dent your confidence a bit, which probably did to a couple of our bowlers. But we were chasing scores down of 200-plus. So, you have to look at it in a different context."

Reflecting on their campaign at large, Boucher termed their playoff qualification as a "good achievement" while also reflecting on his journey. "The experience has been fantastic; I've really enjoyed it. (We've) got a good group of guys in the dressing room, the support staff has been great as well, lots of experience. It's a very tough competition, takes a lot to win a game of cricket, there are a lot of good teams that you come up against. So the results can go either way. It's quite a stressful competition. But in saying that, to get to the playoffs is a good achievement. Obviously disappointed about tonight's result but I thought we fought right the way till the end."