Dale Steyn rings firm wake-up call for struggling Hardik Pandya as MI skipper faces double-edged 'IPL, T20 WC' sword | Crickit
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Dale Steyn rings firm wake-up call for struggling Hardik Pandya as MI skipper faces double-edged 'IPL, T20 WC' sword

Apr 19, 2024 07:53 PM IST

Hardik Pandya hasn't been at his best with the ball in the ongoing IPL season so far, taking only 4 wickets in seven matches and conceding at 11rpo

Former South African bowler Dale Steyn has urged Mumbai Indians’ all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Romario Shepherd to provide a cushion to their full-time pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Gerald Coetzee, following MI's narrow 9-run win over the Punjab Kings on Thursday. The bowling duo of Bumrah and Coetzee largely ensured that the PBKS batters were left in the dust in their chase of 193, after picking two wickets each in the powerplay. 

Mullanpur: Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya during a training session ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 cricket match between Punjab Kings and Mumbai Indians(PTI)
Mullanpur: Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya during a training session ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 cricket match between Punjab Kings and Mumbai Indians(PTI)

However, as both the bowlers were removed from the attack, the Kings bounced back, thanks to a blitzkrieg from Ashutosh Sharma (61 off 29 balls), with a supporting knock from Shashank Singh (41). In the end, Bumrah and Coetzee came back towards the final overs of the chase, both picking the two in-form uncapped Indian batters to secure the win for MI.

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Steyn cited this concern for MI's bowling as he felt that the impact created by Bumrah and Coetzee wasn’t preserved well by the likes of captain Hardik and Romario Shepherd against Punjab. Hardik has been struggling with the ball particularly, having picked only four wickets in seven matches at a poor economy rate of 11. Even with the bat, Hardik has scored 141 runs in the season so far. With the T20 World Cup squad selection deadline nearing, Hardik's struggles pose additional concerns.

“We want to see them (MI) close out games early by bringing Bumrah back or Coetzee. But then they have to depend on guys like Hardik to finish off, who hasn’t been bowling as well of late and some of the other bowlers travelling like (Romario) Shepherd, they may struggle in the back end," Steyn said on Star Sports Cricket Live.

“Mumbai are in a situation now where they have to tactically figure things out, but they also need somebody to step up, their bowlers to step up and really help out Bumrah and Coetzee, because if they (MI) keep going the way they are, they might lose more points again," he added.

Too reliant on Bumrah

Australian legend Tom Moody also highlighted that the five-time former champions were too reliant on Bumrah but couldn’t manage to have his one final whiff till the 13th over after the powerplay.

“Again, Mumbai leaning on him so much to turn their fortunes around. He bowled two overs early on and had the Punjab Kings on their back. But, interestingly enough, he didn’t bowl another over until the 13th,” Moody said.

“He’s at the peak of his powers at the moment. And that’s my point of where I think the Mumbai Indians let the Punjab Kings back into this contest. (Gerald) Coetzee and Bumrah for mine, and I’ll be interested to hear what the other fast bowlers think on this show. Should (Bumrah) have bowled again to be able to put Punjab completely out onto the campus,” he added.

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