Ishan Kishan, who was the team's top scorer in IPL 2020, has shown indifferent form this season. From 5 opportunities, the southpaw could only muster 73 runs at a dismal average of 14.60. His strike rate of 82.95 also underlines his struggles on the spin-friendly Chennai track.
The team management thus opted to leave him out of the match against RR in Delhi. Rohit Sharma confirmed the development after he won the toss and opted to bowl.
"We came out playing in different conditions, this looks better. You have to back your instinct and that's the message to the team. We've got one change, we've left Ishan Kishan out. Nathan Coulter-Nile comes in," said Sharma.
MI played their last 2 games with just 3 overseas players, while all-rounder Jayant Yadav filled the final spot. A change in this regard was also expected and Coulter-Nile will add some more bowling options for Rohit Sharma.
Will Nathan Coulter-Nile replacing Ishan Kishan bring a change in MI's fortunes?
MI have made a mediocre start to IPL 2021 by winning 2 out of their 5 games so far. Although there is no reason to panic, the 5-time-champions' middle-order has failed to fire collectively this season. Suryakumar Yadav has got off to good starts, but has fallen short on making match-winning contributions.
Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya have looked a pale shadow of themselves with the bat while their bowling contributions have also dwindled. So bringing in a specialist bowler in place of Ishan Kishan is a tactically curious call.
Coulter-Nile has the experience of playing 33 IPL games, where he has picked up 41 wickets at a fine average of 22.56. The track in Delhi will certainly support his skiddy pace but the fact that he hasn't played much cricket of late could pose a slight problem for MI.
Although Delhi looked like a batting paradise in last night's game between Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad, it will be interesting to see if being a batsman short puts added pressure on the MI top-3.