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File Photo

Mumbai : Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene defended the team’s decision to drop spinner Harbhajan Singh from their IPL opener against Rising Pune Supergiant, saying it was a tactical move.

“Bhajji wasn’t dropped. It was just a combination. Tactically we decided first game, given the opposition, that’s the way we wanted to go. Simple as that,” said the former Sri Lanka skipper here on Saturday.

The decision to include inexperienced left arm spinner Krunal Pandya seemed to have backfired as he was given just two overs in which he went for runs in the April 6 opener against RPS that MI lost by seven wickets.

“Not really. When you look at their line-up, they had 8 right-handers in the top 10 except for Stokes. We still had Nitesh (Rana) in our line-up who could bowl,” he further explained about the inclusion of Pandya.

“We have a quality group of players and we need to be smart about how we use them against opposition. I thought we played a very good game given the fact that what they had to offer. But definitely (Harbhajan was) not dropped in the way that you want me to say it. Just that it was a tactical decision.

“Given that it was a green wicket and that they had 2 leg-spinners, one of whom went for runs and just one took wickets off pretty straight balls.

“I think we were in the game, tactically we got it right. We thought 184 was quite a high score on that venue. They batted really well to get that,” he elaborated.

“We made couple of mistakes on the field. The second one that we dropped (RPS captain) Steve Smith when he was on 36. So that’s probably where things didn’t go our way. But I think tactically we played the game pretty much the way we wanted. Just couldn’t get over the line,” he said.

The team has been bolstered by the arrival of his countrymen, MI’s long-time pace spearhead Lasith Malinga and all rounder Asela Gunaratne after the T20 series at home against Bangladesh, but Mumbai will be without the services of another key batsman Ambati Rayudu who has a groin injury that he suffered while fielding against RPS.–PTI

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