Mumbai: Mumbai Indians head coach Ricky Ponting rued that his side have not played to their full potential so far in the IPL but said they can make a quick turnaround if they maintain a high level of performance throughout 40 overs of a match.
The defending champions have tasted three defeats out of four games and Ponting said it was because his side "have not been able to play 40 overs of good cricket".
"So far in the tournament we have had opportunities to win matches. We have fought back into the game but we had one or two bad overs or dropped catch that has upset the momentum. We have not been able to play 40 overs of good cricket," Ponting said on the eve of the game against RCB in Mumbai on Wednesday.
"We probably have played 30 overs of good cricket in all the games. That's not good enough. We have to be consistently better and longer if we want to win Wednesday's game," he said.
Ponting also conceded that his batsmen have not clicked as a unit and lacked consistency in the tournament so far.
"It's been very disappointing so far. We have not played to the level the team would have liked. We had a very good win in Kolkata chasing a big score. But otherwise our batting has not been good enough yet. The guys are very aware they have not played as well as they can," said the former Australian captain.
MI lost their opening match at home to IPL debutants Rising Pune Supergiants, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and to Gujarat Lions, led by Suresh Raina, as well as the away game on Monday against Sun Risers Hyderabad.
Their lone victory came against Kolkata Knight Riders led by Gautam Gambhir at the Eden Gardens when MI skipper Rohit Sharma led from the front with an unbeaten 84.
"At different times we have not been able to fight our way back. We have not been able to dominate from the outset. That's what we are hoping to do against RCB which is a very good side," he said.
He defended the decision to promote Hardik Pandya to number three while conceding the experiment has not clicked. "We did not have a specialist no. 3 batsman. Jos Buttler bats at no. 5 and Kieron bats at 5-6. Ambati (Rayudu), at no. 6, has been able to win games for us in partnership with Pollard. We did not want to break it. The only option was to make Hardik bat at no. 3. I guess the experiment has not worked," said Ponting.
He hinted that Buttler will retain his spot for the moment.
"Buttler played a match-winning innings in Kolkata 41 off 20. He was stumped down the leg side against Gujarat and was caught down the leg side off a poor delivery in the last game (against SRH). He’s a match-winning player, he relishes these conditions he’s a very good striker of the ball. We will definitely keep him around there for a while.
"Rohit is willing to do what is right for the team. We decided last night to bring in Martin Guptill up the order. The captain also had made it clear at the start we will pick teams as per the conditions. Whether he will play at no.4 throughout, I don't know," Ponting said when asked whether Rohit would play at two-down from now onwards after dropping down to that slot from opening against SRH.
The two-time World Cup-winning skipper said that the team's pre-season plans have gone for a toss with the injuries sustained by bowling spearhead Lasith Malinga and last two year's top opener Lendl Simmons who have been ruled out of the tournament.
"Things have not gone well for us. Lendl has been our top scorer over the last two seasons. He had a good opening partnership going with Parthiv Patel which gave us a lot of momentum in the back half of the tournament last year and also made things easy for the middle order.
"Malinga is, if not the best, very close to being the best T20 bowler. That’s a big loss. (Also) Pollard has come into the tournament on the back of a knee reconstruction. And having not played much cricket for over 4-5 months, he's probably a bit underdone at the start of the tournament," said Ponting.
"We have been putting 11 very good players. Our bowling has been pretty good right through the tournament. It has been good enough, but we have not got enough runs yet. We have not decided on replacement for Malinga yet," the MI coach said.