MI skipper Rohit Sharma (right) and coach Mahela Jayawardene arrive for a press conference on Thursday. Courtesy: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Mumbai Indians (MI) skipper Rohit Sharma downplayed talk on the team’s dismal performance in the UAE in 2014 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday.
MI failed to win a single game in the UAE leg of the IPL, which was shifted to the UAE in the wake of general elections in the biggest democracy of the world in 2014.
“Not too fussed about what happened in UAE back in 2014. It’s been six years to that. Only myself, Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah were a part of that squad. The team is different and the thought is different,” said the MI captain during an online pre match press conference, which was posted on the team’s website on Thursday.
The 2020 edition of the IPL has been shifted to the UAE due to rising cases of coronavirus in the country of one billion plus. Rohit said they were wary of Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who will play the opener on Sept.19 with the holders MI.
“CSK is a great team. We will be expecting a great contest against them. We can’t afford to take them lightly. Though, we don’t focus on the opposition’s squad. We don’t waste time doing that. We focus on what we need to do,” he added.
“Reading the pitches will be the key in the UAE this year. Having played the Asia Cup in 2018, I certainly expect the pitches to tire down. We need to adapt to these conditions. What lengths to bowl, what areas to focus on. We’re expecting reverse swing to play a part this season. We’ve got a good mix of pacers as well,” said the right-handed batsman.
Rohit was the captain of the Indian team which won the 2018 Asia Cup, beating Bangladesh in the nail-biting final.
“We’ve had a good chat about the conditions. We understand what we need to expect when we go out in the middle. The team management has done a fantastic job in these tough times. Now it’s all about turning it around on the field. We’ve had a good chat about the conditions,” added the skipper about the conditions in the UAE.
The swashbuckling batsman was full of adulation for Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga, who pulled out of the tournament due to personal reason.
“Malinga will be missed this year. What he’s done for us is unbelievable. He’s a legend. It’s hard for anyone to fill his boots we all know that.
“He has been a matchwinner for Mumbai. I have said it many times, whenever we found ourselves in difficult circumstances, Malinga was the one to bail us out from there.
“Guys like Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohsin Khan are the probable replacements for Malinga. But obviously what he has done for Mumbai is not comparable,” added Rohit.
Rohit also stressed that he would be opening the innings for MI probably with Quinton de Kock.
“I will open the batting this season. I have always told the management to keep all doors open. It’s not just about the boundaries you hit. The focus will be on other aspects of the game too,” he informed.
Commenting on living in a bio-secure bubble, he said: “We decided to have our families around. For me, it is important to have them here. I am mentally at ease. I don’t have to worry about what they’re up to back in Mumbai,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, MI coach Mahela Jayewardene confirmed that Rohit and De Kock would open the innings for MI, putting an end to speculation as to who would partner the skipper after the inclusion of Australian opener Chris Lynn.
“It is always good to have options. Lynn is a great addition to the squad. But the combination of Rohit and Quinton has been phenomenal, they complement each other very well,” said the coach.
“A lot of our guys have been training for the past two weeks. We’ve had a few practice matches as well. The boys look in good shape,” he informed about the preparation of the squad ahead of the tourney.
“The pitches in UAE will help most of the spinners. Krunal will play a big part along with Chahar. We’ve also signed a young leggie in Prince Balwant Rai. We’re really confident as a bowling unit,” added Jayawardene.
“Hardik is returning from an injury but he’s looking good in the nets. The Pandya Brothers have been excellent for us in the past three years. Bumrah has been working really hard. He’s ready for the season. And he looks sharp,” said the former Sri Lankan skipper.
“We try to create a friendly environment. And we’ve done that right here at our team hotel. The aim is to look after the players and their families. And to keep them occupied with other activities as well.
“We’ve planned for every situation. Even in the group when we’re doing certain activities, we’re doing that with maximum precaution. Despite being in a bio-bubble, we haven’t taken anything lightly.”
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