Mumbai Indians (MI) all-rounder Hardik Pandya won’t be burdened with finishing matches alone, revealed head coach Mahela Jayawardene. The 26-year-old will enjoy a lot more freedom than when he played for India as a finisher and a bonafide fifth seamer.
In a virtual media conference, Jayawardene said that MI are spoilt for choices because of the depth of their squad, with anyone in the lower-middle order capable of finishing matches on a given day. He said:
“We have used him (Hardik) in different roles in the past and we will look into that. We have quite a number of other players who can fit into that role as well, so whenever the opportunity is there we ask anyone to finish the game off... It doesn’t just fall on Hardik but it is one of his responsibilities, so we want to try and challenge players in different ways in this camp, so we will continue to do that.”
Indeed, the Mumbai Indians have power-hitters like the Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard in their ranks. They can also use either of Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan as a floater, who can both bat at the top of the order to maximise the powerplay overs and at No. 7 to finish an innings.
Hardik Pandya is looking very good in the nets: Jayawardene
Regardless of whatever role Hardik Pandya is assigned, it would be intriguing to see how he goes about the work. This is because the IPL 2020 opener on September 19 will be his first recognised match since he was ruled out with a stress fracture on his back in September last year.
Hardik Pandya, however, smashed a 37-ball hundred at the DY Patil T20 Cup earlier this year and according to Jayawardene, he has looked in good shape in the MI practice sessions. He said:
“Hardik is coming back from an injury. So we will have to be mindful of that but he is looking very good in the nets.”
Hardik Pandya has scored 1068 runs and picked 42 wickets in 66 IPL games, with his best season coming last year. In MI’s title-winning season, he scored 402 runs at an average of 44.66 and also scalped 14 wickets. Interestingly, Hardik Pandya's strike rate of 191.42 was the second-highest in IPL 2019.
Who scored the most runs in IPL,click here to find out.Published 18 Sep 2020, 11:03 IST