Champs Mumbai keep the faith in openers Sharma, De Kock
Opening in 15 of MI’s 16 innings in 2019, Sharma and De Kock aggregated 565 runs including five half-century partnerships. It was the second most successful first-wicket pairing after David Warner and Jonny Bairstow for Sunrisers Hyderabad (791 runs). “Why would you fix something if it’s not broke,” said the Sri Lankan.Updated: Sep 17, 2020, 21:38 IST
Mumbai Indians (MI) have added explosive opener Chris Lynn to the roster but coach Mahela Jayawardene said the defending champions would stick to the pair of skipper Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock at the top of the batting order in IPL13.
“Having options is always great but (the) combination of Rohit and Quinton was phenomenal for us last season. We will continue to go with that but having Lynn gives us flexibility in the squad,” said Jayawardene at a virtual media conference from Abu Dhabi on Thursday. (Also Read: Full coverage of IPL 2020)
Opening in 15 of MI’s 16 innings in 2019, Sharma and De Kock aggregated 565 runs including five half-century partnerships. It was the second most successful first-wicket pairing after David Warner and Jonny Bairstow for Sunrisers Hyderabad (791 runs). “Why would you fix something if it’s not broke,” said the Sri Lankan.
Four-time winners MI and thrice champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) start the competition on Saturday. CSK will miss Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh but Sharma said: “They have got some quality players in the squad and will come out all guns blazing. None of us have played cricket for many months now so, obviously, we will be looking to start on a high.”
For that to happen, MI will have to read the wicket right. Drawing on his experience of leading India to the 2018 Asia Cup, Sharma said: “Weather is so hot over here that wickets will die down. I certainly experienced that first game we played and the final (in 2018) there was lot of different between how the pitch was behaving.” MI have three players --- Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and Sharma --- who took part in the last Asia Cup.
It wasn’t the only time Sharma spoke about pitches. “We need to adapt to how to play on this kind of pitches, what lengths to bowl, which shots to play,” he said.
“Only few have played here so it is important to share that information,” said Sharma. MI have in their ranks Lynn, Kieron Pollard and Mitchell McClenaghan who have played in the Pakistan Super League hosted in UAE.
In an MI video, McClenaghan is heard telling Sharma that “at all three venues pitches behave differently. Some bounce, some stay low”.
Three venues, one each in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, will host 60 matches in just over 50 days leading to a lot of talk about how the wickets would behave and whether it would help spinners more. Dubai will host 24 matches, Abu Dhabi 20 and Sharjah 12 with play-off schedule yet to be announced.
“It’s not just the spinners but even seamers will have lot of assistance. Not swing or seam movement but there will be some reverse swing that we are expecting. We have quality in our bowling line-up who can explore that. Same goes for the batting; you need to understand the shots that will give you runs on the board. It’s not just about coming and hitting boundaries,” said Sharma.
While MI will be without Lasith Malinga, who pulled out due to personal reasons, they are looking at right-arm pacers such as Nathan Counter-Nile, James Pattinson and Dhawal Kulkarni to fill in his big shoes. Skipper and coach also said the spin department too is well-stocked as well with Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar leading the line and Jayant Yadav, Anukul Roy and new recruit Prince Balwant Rai as back-ups.
About living in a bio-secure bubble, Sharma said: “Even before we came here, we had the boys on conference call and were discussing how we need to be disciplined. Mentally, it is tough but the Mumbai Indians’ team management… have created some amazing space in the hotel where we can relax, spend time with the family.”