New Delhi: A day before the last Champions League Twenty20 2013 Group A game - between Mumbai Indians and Perth Scorchers - not much of the talk was specifically about the match.
Partly because the worth of the match would be decided only after Rajasthan Royals and Otago Volts wrap up their fixture in Jaipur on Tuesday (September 1) night, and partly because it might well be Sachin Tendulkar's last game in Mumbai Indians' colours.
While John Wright, the Mumbai coach, hoped for Sachin Tendulkar to have a good knock - "I hope it's not our last match though" - Justin Langer, his Perth counterpart, referred to a spot of history to make his point. "I wonder if we have an Eric Hollies (who bowled Don Bradman out for a duck in his last Test innings) in our group - imagine, that would be awesome," said Langer.
Perth Scorchers, along with Brisbane Heat, have been the big disappointments of the tournament and Langer put Perth's poor run down to their missing personnel - some to injury, many to their respective Indian Premier League (IPL) teams. "We came with a very young side," he said. "Six of our main players were out of the tournament. I am not making excuses. If we had taken our catches in the first game, it might have turned out differently. There are regulations ... the IPL is something we have to deal with.
"But it was an awesome experience. They (the Perth youngsters) have played against some of the superstars. Playing cricket in India for an Australian is the toughest thing. It's like climbing Mount Everest. Even for experienced Australian campaigners, it's a tough place to come and play. It's been very beneficial for us, and hopefully next year we will be better."
But unlike Perth, who started the tournament at a disadvantage, Mumbai had their entire crew in attendance and were expected to be in a stronger position than they are. As it turned out, the washout against Otago pushed them back and then the loss against Rajasthan hurt the defending IPL champions further.
"We've already missed one game, which is proving problematic for us," said Wright. "Hope the Delhi weather is fine and we get a game tomorrow. We are well supported wherever we go. Hopefully that will be the same. We were all watching the match the other day (Sunday, when Otago beat Lions in the Super Over) and hoping the result goes our way. It's a situation a lot of us haven't been in. Let's hope for the best."
Meanwhile, neither coach seemed too sure of what to expect from the Feroz Shah Kotla pitch when they face off at 4pm on Wednesday.
Langer expected a lot of turn, saying, "We are expecting more of what we were expecting in India - more spin than in Jaipur. Facing Harbhajan (Singh) and (Pragyan) Ojha in these conditions - that's going to be an eye-opener for some of our young guys."
If it does turn, or if the team feels it will, Perth have options - Michael Beer, Ashton Agar and Brad Hogg. Langer confirmed that Hogg, who hasn't featured in the tournament so far, would definitely be playing.
Wright, however, felt it would be a batting wicket, saying that that's what he had been told by the ground staff. "They have told me it will be a good batting wicket. We hope so. The last time we were here (during IPL 2013), it was a beautiful batting wicket. There might be a bit of movement with the weather being the way it is. But that might not be the case also. It's pretty good batting here generally. That will suit us. We have to bat really well to stand a chance."
The problem for Mumbai, in the two games they have played, has been that none of Tendulkar, Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu made many runs. Wright did argue that "we've only played two games; it's pretty hard in Twenty20", but that didn't change the fact that Mumbai have fallen short of expectations primarily because of their batsmen's failure.
If that's a negative, the positive from Mumbai's point of view was that the boys were raring to go against Perth. "It's a long tournament for the number of games we play," pointed out Wright. "We've been together more than three weeks and have just had three games. So we've certainly got a lot of energy."
Story first published on: Tuesday, 01 October 2013 19:23 IST