Kolkata: Out-of-favour off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Saturday credited Anil Kumble for his impressive comeback in the IPL, which has helped Mumbai Indians set up a summit clash with CSK, and said encouraging words from the former India captain helped him regain his lost mojo.
Harbhajan`s 22 wickets from 18 matches say a lot about how well he bowled.
"Anil bhai keeps telling me to back myself in whatever situation I bowl and always look to take wickets, even if you go for runs. If you bowl defensively thinking, `okay, let me just get away by bowling a six-run over`, it won`t work because the batsman will make up for it in the next over," Harbhajan said.
Kumble joined Mumbai as team mentor at the start of the season.
"The key is to always try and make the batsman play differently; make him play the way you want him to. That`s how Anil bhai has made a difference, by always telling us spinners to bowl with intent to pick wickets," he said.
Harbhajan, who picked up three wickets for 23 runs and also hit the winning runs in Mumbai`s thrilling four-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in the second Qualifier in Mumbai last night, talked about how the new leadership group comprising of John Wright (head coach), Kumble and Ricky Ponting led the team to the final.
"It brings back a lot of good, old happy memories. John Wright has been fantastic with MI, as he was with India. He remains a man who doesn`t come out in the limelight and says much, but does his job quietly and nicely.
"Anil bhai has been brilliant with the team. Ricky has been really good with the youngsters and also when it comes to talking to the team and motivating the team. Add to that list guys like Sachin Tendulkar, Jonty Rhodes and John, what else do you want in a dressing room? Having such an amount of experience in the dressing room makes things easier on the field for us," he said.
Harbhajan also spoke highly of their young skipper Rohit Sharma, who was handed over the captaincy midway into the tournament following Ponting`s poor form.
"He`s done well, he`s only young and still learning the trade. The great sign is that he is learning very quickly. He has taken the responsibility of captaincy on his shoulders and has started to bat really well. I want him to continue in the same vein and if he does so, we might see him lead India one day," he said.
The off-spinner said it`s a big moment for them to make the second final, having lost to the same opponent in the 2010 edition.
"It`s a big stage for us. The final is just a day after the Qualifier and everything is moving so quickly. This is where we wanted to be as a team because we knew that we had the team to reach the final. Just one more good game and we will get what we have wanted for so long," he said.
He said the biggest reason behind MI`s consistency this season has been scoring lot of runs and bowlers complementing the good work.
"I think the big difference is that we have scored lot of runs this year. Most of our batsmen have been in really good form. People like Rohit (Sharma) and Dinesh (Karthik) have been consistent, (Kieron) Pollard has played some brilliant innings and (Dwayne) Smith has been great for us at the top of the order. The bowlers have done alright to back the good batting line-up."