Star-studded MI team gives me freedom to express myself, says Hayley Matthews
Opening the innings for MI, the 24-year-old from Barbados scored 47 off 31 balls in the opening game against Gujarat Giants and followed it up with a match-winning unbeaten 77 off 38 balls along with three wickets in her team's emphatic nine wicket win against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
"We have got a team of a lot of stars. It has probably given the freedom at the top of the order here to go out there and bat," said Matthews, who hit 13 fours and a six during MI's chase of 156.
In fact Matthews said that playing on better batting tracks at the DY Patil and Brabourne Stadium has certainly helped her game a lot after having played on slow tracks in South Africa during T20 World Cup.
"Over the last couple of weeks for the West Indies, I've been working on my batting, getting the big scores. I have just tried to carry that (form) here. Also, batting on much better wickets here than what we got in South Africa has also helped. It has also got the confidence up as well," she added.
Matthews feels that on a batting belter like one at the Brabourne Stadium, a target of 175 to 180 is highly chaseable.
"It was a really good wicket to bat on. Probably 170 or 180 plus was the at par score. We have the batting and I think both me and Nat (Sciver-Brunt) were able to do that and secure a very good win," she said.
She also did her star turn with the ball and believes that her team's biggest USP is having lot of multi-skilled players at its disposal.
"Thankfully, they picked me as an all-rounder, so I expect them to toss me the ball here and there. We have got so many bowling options in the Mumbai Indians team that again in the last game I might not have been needed but today I had to bowl. That is the beauty of the team that we have right now," Matthews added.
Shouldering more responsibility for West Indies has certainly helped in developing her game, Matthews feels.
"I think it was about being more responsible at the crease. I definitely had to put on more with the West Indies. It naturally helps me with my T20 came on a whole and it also has helped me here."
It has also helped her change the mindset and she isn't always in a tearing hurry to succeed unlike her starting days in international cricket.
"I probably wasn't getting the amount of runs that I wanted due to probably giving my head too quickly but now I have been forcing responsibility and international cricket has helped me to understand how to build my T20 innings," Matthews said.
It is fight for RCB's uncapped players: Ben Sawyer
While RCB head coach Ben Swayer put up a brave face but he in a roundabout manner admitted that team's domestic Indian players are indeed facing an uphill task.
RCB had spend a bomb in getting services of Smriti Mandhana, Richa Ghosh and Ellyse Perry and their domestic recruits don't inspire as much confidence as it should.
Swayer however wants more from the overseas players like Perry and Heather Knight.
"It is not the start anyone of us at the club wanted. But our uncapped players were outstanding. It was a big fight from them. They have got the experience now, but to lose all of our overseas players before the eighth over probably made the difference. With the ball we just did not execute (our plans),” Sawyer said.
Sawyer feels that his side has areas to work on as most of the batters are not converting promising starts with as many as five of them crossed 20-run mark but were dismissed after that.
"While chasing 220 you have to take the risks but tonight we had four batters getting into the 20s but none of them converting it into 40s or 50s,” Sawyer said.
The likes of Grace Harris, Meg Lanning and Matthews have upped the ante for their respective sides and Swayer wants the same from RCB's international stars.
"We have seen from the other teams that overseas players have really stood up and made the bulk of the runs and we have to make sure that ours are doing that."
"All of our six overseas players understand that. No one is really happy with what we are doing but everyone is determined to turn it around," he added.