Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma has admitted that the defending champions will miss veteran Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) which begins Saturday.
Mumbai Indians had earlier said that Malinga wants to be with his family back home in Sri Lanka and thus won’t play this year for the four-time champions.
“It’s hard for anyone to fill his (Malinga) boots we all know that. What he has done for Mumbai Indians and for Sri Lanka is remarkable. He has been a match winner for Mumbai. I have said it many times, whenever we found ourselves in difficult circumstances, Malinga was the one to bail us out from there,” said Rohit in a virtual press conference on Thursday.
With 170 wickets in 122 matches, Malinga is the leading wicket taker in the IPL. “His experience will be missed. We have got guys like Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohsin Khan; these are the names that we are looking at to replace Malinga. But obviously what he has done for Mumbai is not comparable,” said Rohit.
“We just have to leave someone like him aside and look for a replacement. It’s important that the guy taking his position in the playing XI comes without any pressure. They just need to come, settle in the team and start doing what the team is expecting them to. Here in Mumbai we make it very clear for the players what their roles are and what we expect from them.”
The 32-year-old also said that communication is going to be the key for players to adapt to playing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Mumbai Indians will begin their title defence against Chennai Super Kings in the tournament opener. “It’s important for people who have played here to share that information with the guys who have not played. Communication is going to be the key here so that we don’t leave anything behind,” said Rohit.
“Mentally, it’s about just going out there, understand what the pitch is doing and based on that we need to plan our game. We have played a couple of practice matches and we understood what we need to expect going out there,” he added.