Mumbai: Fielding lapses, including a first-ball dropped catch off Brendon McCullum who smashed his way to 81, cost Mumbai Indians the match against IPL debutants Kochi Tuskers Kerala on Friday, said home team captain Sachin Tendulkar.
"They fielded better. In bowling and batting we matched each other, but in fielding department they were better as they held on to whatever catches they got. We missed those opportunities. All we need to do is to make sure we don`t repeat those mistakes," Tendulkar said after Kochi chased down Mumbai`s imposing 182 for 2 with eight wickets and six balls to spare.
"When we started earlier we thought anywhere between 160-165 was a good total as the ball seamed around a bit initially and later on it was a good track to bat on.
"But I thought if we had hit the right areas in bowling - though at times we did manage it - and those important catches ... McCullum was dropped 1st ball itself (by Rohit Sharma off Lasith Malinga). These things happen and that`s why you say catches win matches," added the champion batsman, who hit his maiden IPL century, a 66-ball 100.
Tendulkar said the game was still alive when Malinga got rid off McCullum but a few fielding lapses saw the match slip through in the end.
"The game was very much alive. If Malinga could get McCullum out and put the pressure back on them it would have been wonderful. The first half we managed and was wonderful, but in the second half a few lapses in fielding cost us the match," he said.
"I thought we played competitive cricket in today`s match but when it mattered we faltered in fielding. I would blame this only on fielding and nothing else," he added.
He also defended the move to bring on left arm spinner Ali Murtaza for the 19th over when Brad Hodge and Ravindra Jadeja were at the crease and the move proved costly as the bowler was slammed for two sixes and a four by Jadeja to power his side to a sensational maiden win.
"If you had seen the previous over, Brad Hodge had hit the fast bowler (Pollard) for boundaries. The idea was not to give him pace. Ali had really bowled well earlier. If we had more than ten runs to be scored in the last over, Munaf (Patel`s) experience would have helped. That was the only reason Ali was brought in," he explained.
Tendulkar said he never planned for a century and it happened as he wanted to get as many runs as possible.
"I feel happy that it (century) has happened. Yes I did not think of all this before going to bat, just wanted to get as many runs as possible," he said.
He praised Ambati Rayudu and said he always felt the young Hyderabad player had the talent and all the shots in the book.
"I have always thought very highly of him he`s very talented got all the shots in the book and can play everything. As far as his talent is concerned, I did not have any doubts. First time I heard of him was when he was playing under-19 player for India," said Tendulkar about Rayudu with whom he shared a century stand.
Tendulkar said he was happy to be selected as the 2010 cricketer of the year by Wisden.
"Am happy about it (Wisden honour). Good to be recognized," he said.
Asked what he feels about the move to renew bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan, Tendulkar said, "let`s talk about IPL only and nothing else."
Mumbai Indians lost after two successive victories and Tendulkar said there would be ups and downs in the tournament and it is still a long way to go.
"We are disappointed, but there are going to be ups and downs in this format. However much you plan you need to do certain things spontaneously. Not to forget opposition was also here to win.
"In T20 a couple of good overs, while bowling or batting can change the momentum. That`s the format you don`t get much time to come back, slow down or increased the pace, the pace is set and you have to move on accordingly. There`s not much time to control the pace of the game as such," he elaborated.
Tendulkar said batting was a little bit tricky initially as the wicket was sticky.
"It was little bit sticky once there was roll on the wicket, it played differently early on, it was a bit sticky and seamed around a bit and the ball gripped," he said.
He praised the batting of the opposition and said it was a combination of aggression and improvisation.
"I thought it was combination of both, occasionally we faltered as a bowling unit and occasionally they played some wonderful shots, a good combination of aggressive batting and smart improvisation. I would like to give credit to them. They also batted well," he remarked.