IPL 2021: MI's Zaheer Khan says key is to adapt to situations

IPL 2021: Zaheer Khan, Mumbai Indians’ director of cricket operations, is optimistic of his sides chances in IPL 2021.

“It’s always a proud feeling when your players are representing India at the highest level and have performed this well, says Zaheer Khan.   -  Vivek Bendre

Zaheer Khan has been part of Mumbai Indians for a while and the former India speedster, who is now the franchise’s director of cricket operations, considers the squad as a family. As the defending champion begins its Indian Premier League campaign this year, Zaheer is looking forward to an exciting season.

With the teams playing their games in neutral venues, no teams will have home advantage this season. “Our team was picked based on playing at the Wankhede (Stadium). But we will be playing a lot of games in Chennai instead. This happened last year too when we played in foreign conditions in the UAE. It is always about adapting to situations, so we do not have a problem playing at four different pitches. Even in the 2019 season, we’ve had our away wins in Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, etc. Our boys have always done well in those kinds of challenges,” Zaheer said in a recent Twitter Space session.

Our correspondents Vijay Lokapally, Shayan Acharya and Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya discuss the men's side's season thus far and what to look forward to in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.

 


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While the side has a lethal pace department — spearheaded by Jasprit Bumrah — the team also has some quality spinners in its ranks. “Rahul Chahar is someone who has been very good. He is on the journey of understanding what works for him and what doesn’t.

Along with the experience of Piyush Chawla and Jayant Yadav, Rahul will become a better bowler. So, we have a good bunch of spinners with us. Krunal is also very handy in picking wickets and I’m sure both will do a great job as spinners,” Zaheer said.

Mumbai Indians has had a dream run under captain Rohit Sharma. “Rohit has been very good at understanding how the game is unfolding. He knows how to soak in the pressure, given the pace of a T20 game. Over the years, the key highlight of Rohit’s captaincy is that he understands his options, keeps up with the speed of the format and knows how to manoeuvre his resources,” Zaheer said.

“When he became the captain back then halfway through the season, he responded well. He is a keen learner and it’s important to be a student of the game through and through. With that attitude, you always evolve and understand the details of the game. He’s grown to be phenomenal and can take those crucial calls on the field better.”

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According to the former India cricketer, it’s the culture of ‘encouraging every individual’ that sets Mumbai Indians apart.

“Every team’s goal is to win the IPL and keep getting better. But what sets MI apart is the culture, the culture of family and encouraging each and every individual to have the freedom of expression during the season,” the former India cricketer stated.

While Mumbai has managed to clinch five titles, it has also played a big role in terms of grooming youngsters.

“It is always great to see when someone new joins and adds something to the squad. We are really looking forward to having Marco in the team. He’s an exciting young talent, very tall, able to add extra bounce and subsequent variations, and can contribute with the bat as well. He’s going to add that dimension to our side,” Zaheer said.

“It's always a proud feeling when your players are representing India at the highest level and have performed this well. Surya (Suryakumar Yadav) has been waiting for an opportunity for a long time, Ishan (Kishan) has been playing well and Krunal (Pandya) making an ODI debut after a fantastic Vijay Hazare Trophy outing was great to see.

“All these players are exciting talents. As cricketers, you always want to play at the highest level and in some way, IPL has enabled the same for these players. Our team has been very happy to provide them with a platform to grow. When you see your players go ahead and do well at the highest level, it gives you a lot of satisfaction as a franchise.”