'Mumbai Indians will be hard to beat': Sunil Gavaskar's big prediction ahead of IPL 2021
Legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar believes defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) will be hard to beat in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) season. Gavaskar made this statement after numerous MI players made impactful, at times match-winning, contributions during the limited-overs leg of England's tour of India.
In the T20I series held at the Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium in Ahmedabad, two MI stars made their debut. Wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan, in the second T20I, smashed a 32-ball 56 to help his team level the five-match series. Kishan made 60 runs in 2 matches as he missed the last two games due to a groin injury.
In the fourth game, middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav walked out to bat for the first time in the Indian jersey and hit an entertaining fifty (57) of just 31 balls. India won the match to level the series for the second time and force a decider. Surya scored 89 runs in the three games he played.
"Mumbai Indians will be hard to beat. We have just seen their players coming to form. Ishan Kishan, Suryakunar Yadav – the way they have batted. Hardik Pandya – the way he has come today," said Gavaskar.
Another positive coming out of the white-ball leg of the series were the Pandya brothers. Krunal, in the first game, smashed the fastest-ever fifty on debut in ODIs, while younger brother Hardik started bowling full-time again. He made 86 runs in 5 matches in the T20Is but scored 100 runs in 3 ODIs. More importantly, after not bowling at all in the first two ODI, he bowled nine overs in the last game, including a crucial penultimate over.
Gavaskar shared his thoughts on Hardik's full fitness, saying: "Not just for Mumbai Indians, it was important for Indian cricket to see Pandya bowl 9 overs. That shows that he is ready to play in the Test format as well. It’s [the WTC final] in June, there is still time. But the way he’s come back… that is very very good for Mumbai Indians as well as India cricket.
"So, Mumbai Indian players who have participated in the T20I and the ODI series, they have shown that they have been in very good form. You saw Chahal being hammered, you saw Kuldeep being hammered… There is no Rajasthan Royals in the Indian team. So, I don’t know what kind of performance they gonna put up."
Five-time champions Mumbai Indians begin their campaign against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the season opener on April 9 in Chennai.