Not without reason Mumbai Indians (game in hand) are perched atop the points’ table along with the Chennai Super Kings. Two of their frontline bowling options – Lasith Malinga and Munaf Patel – have been in excellent form. Cricketing gurus and purists know what Malinga can do with his slinging action, but what has come as a refreshing change is the emergence of a fit Munaf Patel. The 6.3″ towering speedster from a motley village in Bharuch had gained a notorious reputation of picking up injuries… almost at will. But since the start of the South Africa tour, prior to the World Cup, Patel has been injury free. Subsequently, he has been performing consistently, first for India and now for Mumbai Indians. Malinga (26) and Patel (17 wickets) occupy the top two slots in the highest wicket takers category in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“Any fast bowler who bowls around the 135-140 mark is injury prone,” Mumbai Indians’ Director of Coaching Operations, TA Sekar said.
“But there were some bowlers like Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar etc who mixed deliveries extremely well. They could bowl fast but at the same time, they had tremendous control over swing. This quality shaped their successful careers. Munaf has been injury free for a while because he is mixing things up. He is using variations to good effect,” Sekar said, explaining the reason behind Patel not breaking down with an injury for such a long while.
Munaf has complimented Malinga very well. Together they have stifled the rival batting order by picking up crucial wickets on a regular basis.
“The most important thing about Munaf,” observed Sekar, “is that he is bowling around the 130-135 mark.
“He used to be tear-away fast bowler. Now, though, he has cut down on his pace and is more of a line and length bowler. He has added a few variations to his bowling and that’s helping him a great deal. Also, he has played three seasons for the Rajasthan Royals and has been in close contact with Shane Warne. I am certain he has picked up a few tricks from Warnie as well. For other technical support or guidance he keeps calling me regularly,” Sekar said while bringing to the fore a technical aspect about Patel’s bowling. “Munaf has a very simple bowling action. And because of his action, he manages to extract a little more bounce off the wicket than the others.”
Mumbai Indians will face the lowly-placed Deccan Chargers at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. And skipper Tendulkar will hope that Munaf and his band of bowlers continue in the same vein.
Deccan Chargers’ coach, Darren Lehmann, meanwhile admitted that his team has had some positives, but has failed to win a few important moments.
“It is difficult to explain why we are where we are. We have had some very good moments. But we have failed to win the moments that matter. We haven’t lost a match very badly. The margin has been just about 10-odd runs. So yeah, it’s difficult to explain.”
Speaking about Patel, Lehmann said: “Munaf has been doing brilliantly of late. He has had a good World Cup for India and has continued in the same vein in this IPL for Mumbai Indians. He is a line and length bowler and has found consistency. Bowling isn’t rocket science. It’s just about executing plans and he is doing it admirably. He has a bright future ahead.”