It may be a huge blow for the Mumbai Indians with injured pace spearhead Lasith Malinga virtually being ruled out of the first half of this edition of the IPL, but coach Ricky Ponting says he has adequate replacements even if the Sri Lankan is not available for the entire tournament.
“He’s not with the squad now. He’s unlikely to take part in the first half of the tournament. If we want to name a replacement we have to do so before the fifth game,” said Ponting at a media conference today ahead of MI’s lung-opener against new IPL side Rising Pune Supergiants on April 9 here.
“If you look at last season when we were playing our best cricket, Malinga was bowling at his best as well. He’s been one of the great performers in world cricket with the new as well as the old ball. He will be definitely missed, but we have more than adequate replacements if he’s ruled out,” added the Australian, who had clinched two World Cups as captain.
Malinga, who took 24 wickets in 15 matches to spearhead MI’s winning campaign last season after the team’s initial losing streak, had hurt his knees before the World T20.
Ponting also seemed not too worried about Mumbai Indians’ skipper Rohit Sharma’s poor form in the WT20 and said he would be in top form over the next few weeks of IPL.
“Rohit is one of the best players in the world. He has shown it over a long period of time. It’s very hard to maintain top form. You will have ups and downs. I am sure he will play exceptionally well over the next two months.”
He also praised the progress made by Jasprit Bumrah at the international level after missing most of IPL due to injury in 2015.
“The last couple of months I am incredibly pleased with Jasprit Bumrah’s improvement. Last season he was coming off an injury lay-off, but now he’s stronger than before. What he has done for India over the last couple of months has been fantastic.