Kolkata: Mumbai Indians batsman Saurabh Tiwary feels that his side have got the momentum going ahead of the IPL play-offs as they have topped the league table and also tested their bench strength with success.
Playing his first match of the season, Saurabh Tiwary, who opened the innings in place of Parthiv Patel, sparkled with a 43-ball 52, while Ambati Rayudu was their top-scorer with a 37-ball 63 as Mumbai Indians defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by nine runs.
"It's a good thing that our bench was tested. We will have our best XI for the play-off. The momentum is with us, and it's a big advantage that we will have the play-off (Qualifier 1) at home," Tiwary said at the post-match news conference.
By virtue of being the table toppers, Mumbai will have the cushion of featuring in the Qualifier 1 between the top- two sides that will give both the teams two shots at making the final. The winners qualify for the final, while the losing team gets to play the Eliminator.
"There's very little margin of error in play-offs. But the good thing about us is, if we have someone injured, we would not have someone to play his first match. It becomes difficult especially in a stage like play-off where there's very little room for error," he said.
Captain Rohit Sharma opted to rest six of his side's regulars -- Patel, Nitish Rana, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan -- but it did not affect their performance as they finished with an 20 points.
"This was like a second string Mumbai Indians side. We have a very good bench strength. The credit goes to our preparation in the build-up to the season," said the Jharkhand player.
Veteran seamer R Vinay Kumar, who also played his first match of the season, returned with two wickets alongside Tim Southee and Hardik Pandya to restrict Kolkata to 164/8.
Hailing the team management for keeping them in good space, Tiwary said: "The one thing good about our team management is the reserve players get to play a lot at the nets. You never get a feel that you're out of the team, which is a big plus point for our team. Mentally we are always prepared."
Mumbai once again proved to be the bogey team against Kolkata as they have now won five in a row with an overall head-to-head record of 15-5 -- the most by a team against any opponent in the IPL. It was also Kolkata's first home defeat while chasing since 2013.
But Tiwary said Kolkata will remain one of the top sides in his book.
"Both teams are two-times' title champions and are equally good. In cricket you have ups and downs. You cannot underestimate a team. KKR will always come in my book for the top three teams. It's a great matter of pride if you beat them," he said.
Tiwary admitted that his sloppy running was the cause of his run-out in a lack of communication with Rayudu.
"I thought it was not a run. But in slog overs you have to run virtually to every ball. So it's my mistake that I didn't run."
The Jharkhand batsman last played here during the Vijay Hazare domestic one-dayers and Tiwary said: "In Vijay Hazare here at Eden Gardens, 110-120 was like a winning total. If you compare, it's a massive difference."
"Initially the wicket was two-paced, the ball was seaming and it was difficult to bat. But later on it eased out. It was better to bat in second innings."