Mumbai Indians skipper and India opener Rohit Sharma confirmed yesterday that he will be opening the batting for the Mumbai Indians in this year’s IPL. In an online press conference, attended by the Mumbai Indians skipper and head coach Mahela Jayawardene, Rohit said that while the team is open to different batting combinations, he will start the IPL 2020 campaign as an opener.
Rohit, who has led the Mumbai Indians to 4 IPL titles, said,”I opened for the entire tournament last year and will continue to do that. As a team, we keep all options open. I’m happy to do what the team wants. I enjoy batting at the top of the order and I’ve been doing it for a while. But even when I play for India, the message to the management is to not close any door and keep all the options open, so I’ll do the same here.”
Mahela Jayawardene then confirmed that South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock will partner Rohit at the top-order. Jayawardene cited the performance of the opening pair from the previous season as the main reason of having de Kock open with Rohit instead of the newly purchased Chris Lynn, who, although, has been reputed to be ballistic in the powerplay, has had a below-average Caribbean Premier League, scoring a total of 138 runs for the St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots, averaging 17.25.
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Jayawardene explained, “Lynn is a great addition to the squad, but the combination of Rohit and Quinton did a phenomenal job for us last season. They complement each other well, they’re consistent and both of them are experienced. They’re good leaders as well, so why would you want to fix something that isn’t broken? We will continue to go with that.”
“Lynn as an option gives us flexibility in the squad and that’s what we’ve always done. We try and add more value to the team, give more options so that we can be unpredictable when it comes to tournaments and big matches. Quinton and Rohit as a combination have been brilliant.”
While the absence of Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga will leave a void in Mumbai Indians’ bowling attack, Rohit stated that the franchise will try to make up for his absence with the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Malinga’s replacement, James Pattinson.
He said, “For anyone, it’s hard to fill his boots. What he has done for MI and Sri Lanka is remarkable. He has been a match-winner for MI, whenever we were in trouble, Malinga bailed us out. His experience will be missed and what he did for MI is unbelievable. Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson, and Dhawal Kulkarni are some of the names who can be his replacement. What he did for MI cannot be compared and he cannot be replaced.”
Rohit went on to speak about the challenges of playing the tournament in the UAE, within a bio-bubble and praised the team management for keeping the team mentally fresh.
He said, “It’s going to be a different IPL. We were mentally prepared for it. Even before we came here, we discussed with boys about the bio-bubble guidelines. We are following all the protocols set by BCCI. Mentally it’s tough. Credit to Mumbai Indians management to have worked it well for us. Mentally we are fresh and not drained in our hotels with the facilities. Hats off to the team management for doing a fantastic job.”
“The challenge for us would be to adapt to these conditions. Not a lot of cricketers from our group have played here. People who have been here need to share their experience with the players who have not played so far. Mentally, it’s about going there and understanding the pitch is doing. We have played some practice matches here and we know what to expect there. Reading the pitches will be very important.”
Mumbai Indians commence their 2020 IPL campaign against the Chennai Super Kings in the opening match of the tournament later tomorrow.