Kolkata: Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma believes Lasith Malinga’s unavailability in the first few weeks of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be a great opportunity for young Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah to fill in the shoes of the talismanic Sri Lankan.
“It is a fantastic opportunity (for Bumrah). Malinga is not available for next few weeks. We have to see his fitness, definitely not playing tomorrow’s game. We are keeping a track how he is progressing. Bumrah has evolved in the last couple of months. You must have seen him in Australia. He bowled well and then carried his performance in the Asia Cup and the World T20,” Rohit told the media here on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s tie against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Eden Gardens.
“He is a lot stronger and much fitter. He has also matured a lot. A lot of expectations from him but we do not want to put too much pressure.”
In their last game — the opening match of the tournament — Mumbai Indians suffered a humiliating nine-wicket defeat against newcomers Rising Pune Supergiants. But Rohit said the Mumbai players are not carrying any baggage from the previous contest to this one.
“This is a professional unit you don’t need to motivate anyone. The performance (in the last game) was not something we wanted. It was disappointing but things like this can happen. You cannot get demotivated, you have to get stronger and look forward. What has happened has happened, don’t want to carry any baggage,” he said.
“Want to be the best we can. We got back to the drawing board decided what we can’t afford as a team and rectified our mistakes. Hopefully we will have a better game tomorrow.”
Kieron Pollard is a key member of the Mumbai side and is a match winner on his day. But of late fitness issues have troubled the West Indies all-rounder. When asked about it Rohit said: “Pollard is raring to go. He has been troubled with injury to his knees, it is always tough when you comeback from a lay-off. He has joined a week before and he is looking good now. He is putting as much effort as he can in training.”
“Pollard cannot be written off after one game. He is a match winner for us.”
The 28-year-old also said that to lift the trophy again, all the Mumbai batsmen need to contribute and like always he would want to lead the batting unit from the front.
“As a captain, it is important to lead from the front, I will do the same this year. Along with me there are a few other guys who will have to share the responsibility. We did not have any one in the top five last year, so it meant that all the batters were contributing,” he said.
Rohit also said the problem with the first half of the tournament is that the team has difficulties in gelling together as a unit as new players come in after each auction.