Hardik Pandya had shoulder concern but will bowl soon: Zaheer Khan

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Hardik Pandya did not bowl in Mumbai Indians’ lung-opener on Friday due to a shoulder concern but the India all-rounder will soon contribute in team’s cause with ball in his hand, team’s Director of Cricket Operations Zaheer Khan said on Monday.

Mumbai Indians, the five-time champions, lost their opening game to Royal Challengers Bangalore by two wickets.

“Hardik, as a whole package is always of great value, everyone knows that. It was a workload related thing in the previous game,” Zaheer said at the pre-match conference ahead of their game against Kolkata Knight Riders.

“He bowled in the whole England series, in the last ODI he bowled about nine overs and that is why in consultation with the physio, we had to take that approach.

“There was a little bit of a shoulder concern but I don’t think it is worrisome. You will see him bowl very soon. We are very confident that he will be chipping in with the ball in his hand as well,” added Zaheer, a former left-arm pacer himself.

Zaheer also said that West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard was the team’s sixth bowling option.

“Pollard is our sixth bowling option. In that department we are not very concerned. You have to just adapt and adjust.

“This year’s format is a different format. So, from that point of view, we need to have that adaptability and flexibility around the squad as well, with different places, not playing in your home ground, which is what we accept and planning accordingly with regard to the season ahead,” he added.

According to Zaheer, South African opener Quinton De Kock is available for the game on Tuesday.

“Quinton is out of his quarantine. He did a practice session yesterday with the team. He is looking forward to the season. He will be available for tomorrow’s game,” said Zaheer.

Zaheer also heaped praise on wicket-keeper batsman Ishan Kishan and said he has flourished since the last season’s game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he played a splendid knock.

“Ishan Kishan is looking assured now. When you are growing as a cricketer, when you are trying to make that impact at the highest level, you know you have that tipping point and with Ishan last year was that tipping point when he played that knock against RCB,” explained Zaheer.

“He (Kishan) just flourished from there and he is in the same zone and going about doing his business, making sure he is continuing with those processes and spending enough time in the nets and trying to better himself,” he said.

Mumbai Indians’ hard-hitting Australian batsman Chris Lynn made a quick-fire 49 in the lung-opener. Now that Quinton will be available, it’s still not clear if Lynn will keep his place.

“It is a good headache to have as a management, like I was earlier saying we are lucky and fortunate to have such a squad where people are waiting to grab those opportunities, and pushing each other, so that’s the exciting part.”

Zaheer also described pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah as their trump card and said he was someone, who could turn the game at any stage.

Asked whether Bumrah should have bowled earlier in the last game against RCB, Zaheer quipped, “You can’t set a pattern to use a trump card, you have to use trump card in an aggressive manner, when you are really need it.”

“And that was the discussion and that is generally the process around Jasprit. He is someone who can turn the game at any stage and we use him accordingly,” he signed off.



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