IPL 2023: 'We fought right to the end' — Mumbai Indians coach Boucher hails his team for reaching the playoffs

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Mumbai Indians’ (MI) IPL 2023 campaign came to an end on Friday with a defeat to Gujarat Titans (GT) in Qualifier 2. While GT progressed to the final against Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai who are undergoing a transition have had a remarkable season with the squad struggling with injuries to Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer.

IPL 2023: Full coverage | Points table | Schedule | Results | Orange Cap | Purple Cap​

Mark Boucher, who is in his first season as Mumbai Indians coach, said that while they are disappointed with a defeat in Qualifier 2, reaching the playoffs was a “great achievement”.

“First of all, the experience has been fantastic, I have really enjoyed it,” Boucher said in the post-match press conference. “Got a good group of guys in the dressing room, the support staff is great as well, lots of experience. It’s tough, it’s a very tough competition. It takes a lot to win a game of cricket. There are a lot of good teams that you come up against and the results can go either way, so it’s quite a stressful competition. But to get to the playoffs is a great achievement. Obviously disappointed about tonight’s result but I think we fought right to the end.”

In Photos: All-round GT trounce MI to setup final against CSK

Talking about Qualifier 2, Boucher praised his team for putting up a fight in the 234-run chase despite experiencing a rocky start.

Reflection on Qualifier 2

Gujarat scored 233/3 batting first with Shubman Gill making 129 off 60 balls. In reply, Mumbai lost their first three wickets for 72 while Nehal Wadhera opened the batting instead of Ishan Kishan who could not bat due to concussion.

Cameron Green and Suryakumar Yadav stitched 52 runs together to steady the innings but their dismissals by the 15th over led to a batting collapse with MI getting bowled out on 171.

“Yes, 233 I thought was a bit high, to be fair. Probably 25 to 30 runs too much. It was a little bit unsettling because we weren’t quite sure how Ishan was going to go. Nehal we knew that he could do the job, in the practice games that we played, he actually opened the batting and he played fairly aggressively, which we really needed; someone to go out and play that way tonight. It didn’t come up for us but it’s T20 cricket. You got to adapt to the conditions and today we were thrown a bit of a curveball, unsettled us a bit,” Boucher said about the game.

“We lost Nehal early. I think Green was the one that also unsettled us a bit, got a blow to the arm, and he came off, but thankfully he was able to go back out and bat for us and put us in a decent position up until sort of like the 15th over. Unfortunately, we just lost too many wickets and I think that is our downfall from the batting perspective tonight. We gave it a good go right up until the 15th over. If one of our batters that were in there had batted right to the end, it might have been a lot closer than the end result.

Read | Shubman Gill smashes third century in four outings

“But I am proud of the way that they went about it. We could have gone out there and lost those couple of wickets and just thrown in the towel. It shows good signs for the future of how the guys are playing and the belief in the changing room and the intent that they’re showing, especially with the bat.”

Praise for Rohit

MI skipper Rohit Sharma’s poor form in playoffs continued as he got out on 8 off 7 against GT.

Boucher backed his captain and added that the opener leads the team “from the front”.

“Rohit is a quality player. What I do think is that he lead from the front in regards to driving toward the sort of way we wanted to play. I think our batting this season was fantastic. We went out at the beginning of the season and we looked at our stats and thought we could improve in certain phases of the game. And the captain is the best person to go out there and drive that vision as well,” Boucher added.

Read | Gill, Mohit help GT thrash MI by 62 runs

After a poor start, Mumbai Indians finished the season on a strong note and Boucher said that it’s time to look to the future.

“In the bowling, you lose two of your stars in the bowling lineup, it’s going to create a couple of holes and we try to fix it up as best as possible. You know, hopefully, the guys can get over their injuries. If they can’t, then we might have to look at other places and there are so many things that we can talk about. Not for me to start opening up a can of worms now, it would be stupid. I think it’s time to just sit back, reflect a bit, take the emotion out of it and make some good sound cricketing decisions once everything’s calmed down and once we understand the future of certain individuals and where they are from a fitness perspective.”

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