IPL 2024: SKY's injury, Green's departure leave Boucher with big gaps to fill in MI team

March 18, 2024
When he will sit down to decide his playing XI for Mumbai Indians' opening match against Gujarat Titans at Ahmedabad on March 24

Mumbai, March 18 (IANS) When he will sit down to decide his playing XI for Mumbai Indians’ opening match against Gujarat Titans at Ahmedabad on March 24, head coach Mark Boucher will have a couple of issues to sort out.

He will have to fill in a couple of big gaps in the middle-order for the injured Suryakumar Yadav, who is likely to miss the first few matches because of an ankle injury he picked in South Africa, and Cameron Green, who had done well for MI last season but was traded to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in an all-cash deal just before the auction.

Though Green’s departure brought in the cash that paved the way for Hardik Pandya’s return to the franchise where he started his career and the Indian T20 captain could fill the all-rounder’s role, a replacement for SKY is sure to be a big headache for Boucher’s team management.

On Monday, Boucher said he is still awaiting an update on Suryakumar Yadav’s fitness from the Indian team management. The middle-order batter — a 360-degree player considered the best in the business in T20 cricket currently — is still waiting for an update on him from the Indian team management.

“So, Surya at the moment is under the guidance of the Indian cricket team as well. So we’re just waiting for updates on that. I don’t like to micro-manage. We’ve got a world-class medical team that’s in control of all of that. Yes, in the past we’ve been hampered by a few fitness issues.

“We’re always going to be in that sort of domain of having fitness issues, as other teams are as well. Every time I look at my WhatsApp, there are reports of other teams also losing players. So, yeah, we trust our medical team that they’re doing the right things. And look, if we lose one or two from a fitness perspective, it is what it is. That’s sport and we just have to keep on the right track and try to find replacements for that,” said Boucher.

He said they have identified some players that can fill the breach left by Cameron Green’s departure.

“Regards to Cameron Green. Yeah, so that’s the beauty of the IPL, is that the auction changes the dynamics of a lot of different teams and seasons. And Cameron Green had a fantastic season for us. I think the way that he played an exciting brand of cricket that he played was great from our perspective.

“We had a couple of holes in our team that we needed to fill up and unfortunately, we went for the decision to let go of him. But we’ve selected along the lines of looking at players that can hopefully fulfil that role again. We’ve got a couple of options available to us and hopefully, that guy can come in the big shoes that Cameron did have and then fill him with flying colours. So, yeah, Cameron did have a great season for us, but we have one or two players to perform the role he performed,” said Boucher.

Boucher is satisfied with Mumbai Indians’ preparations so far and was keen on seeing how the intra-squad warm-up games pan out. “We are in a good space at the moment. We have a big squad. We’ll be playing our first warm-up game today. I’m looking forward to a couple of players putting their hands up for selection,” Boucher said.

The South African felt the team was well-rounded and the new additions are particularly exciting. “We have got new international players. They are very energetic, which is always good. We had a pretty good season. We are in a pretty good space at the moment,” said Boucher, hinting that they may go in with fewer foreign players than allowed by IPL in some of the matches. He said the selection of overseas players in the playing XI will depend on the conditions for that match.

“We have a very good set of Indian players and we are hoping that they will play their role well. We will decide the composition of our foreign players as per the conditions on the day, but I can tell you that we may go in with three overseas players in some matches depending on the conditions.

Both Boucher and Hardik were excited to have Jasprit Bumrah back to full fitness, saying the Indian pacer is a top-class bowler and has done well for MI in the past.

Boucher said it was interesting to see new bowling coach Lasith Malinga interacting with Nuwan Thushara, whose action is similar to him, adding he was expecting the young Sri Lankan bowler Thushara to do well this season.



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