GT vs MI IPL 2024 | Hardik batting at 7 was a collective decision, not his alone: Pollard

Mumbai Indians Captain Hardik Pandya during The IPL 17 2024 Gujarat Titans vs Mumbai Indian Cricket Match at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on March 24, 2024.

Mumbai Indians Captain Hardik Pandya during The IPL 17 2024 Gujarat Titans vs Mumbai Indian Cricket Match at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on March 24, 2024.
| Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

Mumbai Indians’ batting coach Kieron Pollard backed Hardik Pandya’s move to open the bowling instead of Jasprit Bumrah and also said the skipper batting at number seven in their IPL opener against Gujarat Titans was a “collective decision”.

An inexplicable batting strategy saw MI lose their opener by six runs in Ahmedabad on Sunday after they looked on course for victory.

Mumbai Indians won the toss and opted to bowl first and surprisingly, Hardik opened the bowling against his former side.

“You have to plan and decide what you want to do as a team. Hardik (Pandya) has also bowled with the new ball for Gujarat over the last couple of years. He swung the new ball and bowled it well, which was nothing new to us.

“We tried to use the advantage of the new ball swinging along. When I look at the decision made, there is nothing wrong with it, and we move on,” Pollard said at the post-match press conference.

When the discussion turned to the logic behind Hardik coming in to bat at number seven Pollard said one can’t attribute the decision to the skipper.

“No decision is made on full autonomy, so we can’t say it is his decision. As a team, we have plans; we talk about setting entry points for batters. The top order batted deep into the game, and we also had two power hitters to go in the back end.

“Usually, if you look at it over time, Tim (David) has finished games for us, and Hardik has done it over the years.

“So, at any point, any one of them can resurrect the situation. It didn’t happen tonight, so there will likely be a chat about who should have gone earlier.

“But all of those things are in hindsight, and as a team, we make decisions, so let’s put a stop to ‘Hardik made a decision, Hardik did this, Hardik did that’. We are a team. We make decisions collectively as one,” the West Indian said.

Pollard also threw his weight behind embattled opener Ishan Kishan and said he will come good in the coming matches as he is an “experienced” player within the setup.

“For him, again, he did not score tonight so, we can look at all sorts of different things, but I said it’s a long tournament, he is an experienced guy within our setup and we expect big things from Ishan.

“He is in a good space, he has been practising well and has been doing fairly decently, so hopefully within the next couple of games, you can see great performances from him and all of you will continue to laud his brains when he does that,” Pollard said.

Kishan was dismissed for a duck by Azmatullah Omarzai.

Four players, including Punjab all-rounder Naman Dhir, made their Mumbai Indians debut in the team’s opening fixture of IPL 2024.

Pollard was impressed with Dhir’s performance.

“Firstly, kudos go to the scouts and all the guys who work behind the scenes and continue to unearth all of these talents. He was on the radar. For us, he has been within our setup for the last couple of months, going to England and developing.

“So it was something that we’d seen in that guy, and he came out and was very expressive.

“Again, with the lofted shot, we are excited about these things, but I thought he had much more to offer. His calmness, even when we lost that first wicket, and continuing with that intent is a good start for him.

“But again, this is merely the start of something. At the end of it, he scored 20-odd (runs). Let’s give him that space; let him enjoy the moment.”

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