Mumbai Indians failed to secure a playoff spot due to net run rate. (PC: MI)
Mumbai Indians (MI) players selected in the Indian T20 World Cup will enter the team hotel today, following the franchise’s fifth-place finish in IPL 2021. Led by Rohit Sharma, the other MI members in the Indian squad are Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Rahul Chahar.
The two-time defending champions crashed out before the playoffs after finishing behind fourth-placed Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on net run rate. The MI players in the Indian squad will now look for better returns with the Indian team in the T20 World Cup.
Hardik Pandya’s place in the Indian squad is still in doubt, as the all-rounder has been enduring a lean patch with the bat and has not bowled much due to his persistent injury issues. Meanwhile, sources close to the team confirmed to ANI that a set of players would be arriving at Th8 Palm, with the source saying:
“Rohit and boys are coming in today. It would obviously be in focus how Hardik is progressing, and that is no rocket science. But he should be good to go for the showpiece event.”
The source added that the Indian team management and mentor MS Dhoni would take the call to deploy Pandya as a finisher given the inexperience in the middle order at major tournaments. The source said:
“Well, that call obviously needs to be taken by the team management and with MS Dhoni coming in as mentor, you do know the best call will be taken. But yes, you must realise the lack of big-match experience in the Indian middle order, especially when it comes to handling high-voltage clashes like India-Pakistan.”
Hardik Pandya has not bowled a single delivery across the last two editions of the IPL. But he returned to bowling for the Indian team in small bursts during their limited overs assignments against England and Sri Lanka.
Pandya’s poor patch with the bat is also a concern. Across both legs of IPL 2021, he mustered only 127 runs at an average of 14.11 and a strike rate of 113.39.
Hardik Pandya is undoubtedly an X-factor for the Indian team – Source close to team management
Hardik Pandya’s lean patch is reportedly not a concern in the Indian camp, though. The all-rounder has the ability to turn around matches, and the team is banking on that.
Pandya is expected to remain part of the Indian team, and the physio will likely work with him to enable him to bowl by the time the tournament commences. The source added in this regard:
“You are born with it. And Hardik is undoubtedly an X-factor, be it with the ball as we saw against Bangladesh in the last T20 World Cup, or with the bat as we have seen a number of times. You want such players in big-ticket events because they can win you games out of nowhere. If you ask me, he will be in the team, and the physio will try and make him work his way to the bowling crease.”
Selectors will likely wait till October 15 to take a final call on Pandya’s place in the Team India squad.