There was more disappointment of Lasith Malinga missing out IPL 2020 due to personal reasons than the joy of James Pattinson being drafted in as a replacement in the Mumbai Indians squad, for obvious reasons. Malinga is not only the IPL’s all-time highest wicket-taker but he is also one of the main reasons behind MI’s record four titles. But his replacement, Pattinson hasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, he along with Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah have turned MI into one of the strongest pace attacks of the Indian Premier League.
MI head coach Mahela Jayawardene revealed that Pattinson might not have been chosen as Malinga’s replacement had captain Rohit Sharma not pushed for the Australia pacer. Jayawardene said Pattinson was drafted into the Mumbai Indians team on the insistence Rohit.
“I have to be honest, there were quite a few names that we discussed but Rohit was the one who put his hand up and said Patto will be someone who will add value to the attack,” Jayawardene said during a virtual press conference organised by the franchise.
“Jimmy hasn’t let us down from the day he arrived. He adapted really well and formed a good partnership with Boulty (Trent Boult) and Boom (Jasprit Bumrah) and these three guys have been good and so far it’s brilliant,” he said.
Pattinson has picked up 9 wickets in 7 matches at an economy rate of 8.25. The performance of MI’s pacer battery has compelled Jayawardene to persist with their pace-heavy attack despite the pitches in UAE getting slow.
“I cannot say that right now because the fast bowlers still have a bigger role to play in this competition – be it in the Powerplay, middle overs and the backend,” Mahela said when asked if they would re-think their strategy ahead of their IPL match against Kolkata Knight Riders.
“So, trying to keep that balance as long as they are making contributions, penetrating through the opponent batting line-up, it does not matter what kind of surfaces we play on,” he said.
The former Sri Lankan batsman said the quality of their fast bowling, led by Jasprit Bumrah, creates enough opportunities for them.
“We have got very good spinners, who are operating right now within the playing eleven. There are a few guys who are at the wings, who we might look at giving certain positions and certain match-ups. If the conditions suit, we will look into that but right now, I am happy with the combination we have and the way they have operated,” said Jayawardena.
They have been dominant thus far, winning five of the seven games, four of them on the trot, but Jayawardene knows that they cant’ lower their guard.
“We have been very consistent, trying to improve on all departments, and playing some consistent cricket. So you can’t complain after seven matches, to be having 12 points and having two losses, one of those being Super Over.
“Overall as a coach I am happy but there are definitely areas we can improve and keep improving because the tournament is always going to get tougher and tougher at the backend,” Jayawardena added.
(With PTI inputs)