The Mumbai Indians may not be in the race for a playoff spot in IPL 2022, but that has not affected the motivation levels in the squad in the slightest. As their wins against Rajasthan Royals and then Gujarat Titans showed, the team is still hungry, motivated and intense.
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Daniel Sams, who starred with final-over heroics in both wins, once with bat and then with ball, said Mumbai were keen to finish on a high.
“Obviously we’re not going to be able to make the playoffs, but how we set up the rest of the tournament for us is, we’ve got a little mini IPL,” Sams said ahead of the game against Kolkata Knight Riders at the DY Patil Stadium. “So the last six games – we’ve played two of them already – we’re just kind of judging ourselves on that. Yes, this year we can’t make the playoffs but we can still build on a lot of things for the coming season. So every game, regardless of whether it’s an important game, whether it’s the final, whether it’s the first round of the tournament – for us as players, they’re just as important. I think that’s the really important thing, not to have more value on one game or another, because then it makes you prepare the same, the same routines.
“Motivation for the guys is we want to win the rest of our games. That’s actually what’s motivating us. We want to finish this IPL on a bit of a roll. We see our team as a really good team, and we want to prove that over the next coming days.”
The next game is particularly crucial for Sams, since the last time Mumbai faced the Knight Riders, – but in the month since that match, Sams worked out what went wrong, had the support of the full Mumbai squad and support staff, and emerged a stronger bowler. So much so that he confidently defended 9 runs in the final over against Gujarat Titans to deliver a stunning win.
“If I’m being completely honest, it was really, really challenging,” Sams said of that KKR match. “You definitely start to have doubts. It took me a little bit to kind of move from doubting myself and worrying about all that, to be able to move on and think, ‘What can I learn from this?’
“Basically everyone here has been amazing. I’ve had great conversations in regards to, looking at what I’ve done in the past, what I’ve been able to achieve. Yep, these things happen. Instead of thinking about ‘oh you got hit for however many in this over’, let’s think, ‘Okay why did it happen? Look at the footage, what did you bowl?’ That’s where it came about that I wasn’t quite bowling to my strengths. I was bowling my slower balls but I was bowling up rather than into the pitch. Through the conversations with, there was MJ (Mahela), Bondy (Bond), Jasprit and a few others, that I was able to realise why those things were happening and then rectify them in training. Work on a couple of things and then be able to stay calm, stay focussed.”
What Sams did, was have much more clarity about backing his strengths rather than worrying about what the batsman was going to do.
“We always plan for what the batter does, but in the end, especially when it comes down to a crunch moment, Boom’s always going pretty much to his yorker,” Sams explained. “And that’s his strength, which he knows. Regardless of what the batter does, he’s got more chance of executing that because that’s his strength. Those kind of conversations with him and working with Bondy helped me realise that I’ve kind of been edging more to ‘Okay what’s the batter’s weakness I’m just going to target that.’ Even if that’s potentially something that I’m not very good at. There is a little bit of a fine line, but in those crunch moments – like that last over (against Titans) – I was kind of thinking more about putting the percentages in my favour and thinking what do I have the best chance of executing.”
“The conversations have basically been around, ‘what are your go-to balls?’ So for me, my go-to balls are my slower ball variations, and then it just depends on what length and what line,” he added. “That’s kind of like the balls that I go to. Yeah it’s one ball but there’s different areas I can bowl it to.”