Mumbai Indians director of cricket Zaheer Khan has said the concept of workload management 'confuses' him, declaring that the franchise is looking to give its players "as many games as possible" until they are fit for selection in IPL 2022.
The issue of workload management and giving breaks to key international players is significant this year due to the upcoming 2022 T20 World Cup in October-November and the ongoing World Test Championship. MI's all-format Indian players Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah's fitness will be closely watched by the national team.
However, when asked about the subject in a press conference on Friday, Zaheer Khan reiterated his belief that a bowler should play as much as possible to maintain his or her rhythm. He said:
"Look, if you know me well you would have seen over the years I have always endorsed that. You know, as a bowler, if you are in rhythm, you want to play as many games as possible. This workload management phenomenon has been a little confusing for me. For me, it's always been 'If you are fit, you have to be out there'. Unless you are injured. If you are injured, take your time, you work on your fitness, you take your time to get to your 120 percent before you get back. But if you are fit and available, you should be playing as many games as possible and that's the way I see the game. I am sure this season that's what you'll see from all our setup."
The former pacer was also asked about his side's four-wicket loss against Delhi Capitals last Sunday, where fast-bowling emerged as an area of concern. He talked about the team's tendency to start slow in every tournament, adding that they have had "a lot of constructive chats" on the subject and everyone is "right up front" in preparation.
"There have been a lot of constructive chats around the options that we can take. You know, the first game is always a tricky one and you know traditionally how we've been faring in the first game of the tournament. So we usually have been slow starters but I am happy with the way the plans are working, the way everyone is looking at and approaching this year. So you'll definitely see that change in the coming games. It was good learning for us. You've seen the CCI wicket is not an easy for bowlers. You've seen yesterday's game as well - 200+ runs was chased. It's not easy day for the bowlers, but in terms of planning and preparation, they are right up front."
The last time MI won their first game was in IPL 2012 against the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the M Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
"You've got to just prepare yourself" - Zaheer Khan on dew's impact
On the conspicuous impact of dew this season, most matches have been won by the chasing teams. Zaheer said the IPL outfits have "got to just prepare" themselves, adding MI are also looking at extra bowling options.
"Dew is something that's not in your control. You've got to just prepare yourself. You've seen bowlers use wet balls in practice just to get a understanding about what kind of options they can use in match situations. But in terms of the options you are talking about, you've seen the teams are option for maybe sixth and seventh bowling options, considering all these kind of factors. And that's how we are also approaching it..."
Mumbai Indians will next play against the Rajasthan Royals at the DY Patil Stadium on Saturday.