Kumble: MI will miss Harbhajan’s experience

Mumbai Indians’ team mentor acknowledges the vacuum created by the exit of Harbhajan Singh would be hard to fill.

Harbhajan Singh (right) has served Mumbai Indians for all 10 seasons.   -  Vivek Bendre

Mumbai Indians will miss the experience and nous of off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, feels team mentor Anil Kumble.

After having represented Mumbai Indians for all 10 seasons since the inception of the Twenty20 league in 2008, Harbhajan will display his wares this season for Chennai Super Kings. He will most likely play against his former team when the two teams lock horns at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.

Kumble, speaking on the sidelines of a promotional event, said, “Mumbai Indians will certainly miss the experience of Harbhajan Singh as spinner. Krunal Pandya is a really good all-rounder, but he will have to lead the spinners now.”

He added, “They have Rahul [Chahar] as a leg-spinner, but again an unknown youngster. The experience of someone like Bhajji (Harbhajan) during those four overs and also what he brings with the bat as well [will be missed,] but having said that, they have the other bases covered.”

Bumrah the ‘go-to’ bowler

Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman and India’s Jasprit Bumrah will play a crucial role in the death overs for the team, felt Kumble. He said, “The Mumbai Indians have got Mustafizur Rahman so that he can play that role of bowling in the death overs. They have [Jasprit] Bumrah, who has grown leaps and bounds; he is the go-to bowler for the team.”

In addition to the established performers, youngsters would be under much scrutiny, too, acknowledged Kumble. He said, “The U-19 boys would certainly be in focus. Prithvi Shaw, the Nagarkotis (Kamlesh Nagarkoti), all of them would be certainly in focus. It will be a big opportunity for these youngsters to showcase their talent. The Hardik Pandyas, the Bumrahs, all have come through the IPL, it is an opportunity for everyone. We know Shreyas Iyer, no matter how much domestic performances he had, but as soon as had a good IPL performance, then suddenly people start noticing it.

“So everyone in domestic cricket understands that IPL is a great platform for them to showcase the talent and possibly one step closer to making it to the Indian team. But the U-19 boys who did well in the World Cup would be under sharp focus.”

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