The initial success of Baroda left arm spinner, Krunal Pandya, has brought cheers to the Mumbai Indians camp even as many watched his exuberant and funny ways of celebrating after luring batsmen to doom.

Older to sibling Hardik by two and half years, the 25-year-old Krunal made his Indian Premier League (IPL) debut against Gujarat Lions at the expense of Karnataka left arm spinner Jagadeesha Suchith. His skipper Rohit Sharma gave him four overs against the Lions and none against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. On Wednesday he had the prized scalps of RCB captain Virat Kohli and the dangerous A. B. de Villiers.

Suchith had played 13 matches for MI in last year’s IPL, but bowled his full quota of overs only in six matches and his 2-0-31-0 against Rising Pune Supergiants in the opening match of the ongoing league, perhaps forced the change.

“He (Krunal) has been impressive, there is no doubt about that. He’s got something about him. He knows his bowling and understands the conditions well. It makes my job easier. He sets his own field and that shows his confidence in his own bowling,” said Sharma.

What has also pleased MI and Sharma is Krunal’s ability to get runs. He made an unbeaten 20 against the Lions and 28-ball unbeaten 49 against the Sunrisers. These are early days for the Baroda all-rounder, but MI is going to give him a long rope.


“As a captain of the team, it’s always important to get the right balance as soon as you can. We play so much international cricket that we don’t get to see the domestic players in action. We have talent scouts who go and see them to find out what their capabilities are. Luckily we got two practice games to find out for ourselves what the local guys are capable of,” said the MI skipper.

Sharma also pointed out that all teams try and get the combination right quickly as possible. “It’s (the objective) of not just Mumbai Indians, but also for the other teams, because players come from different parts of the world. This year it has been tough (to find out the quality of domestic players) for MI because we got players at the auction and by way of transfers.

We have a nice balanced side right now and so hopefully, they can continue to play for a long period of time and perform the way they need to. What’s important is that they need to be given the confidence that they are being backed b the management of the team and that they will have the luxury of playing a lot of games. They need to be given the confidence at the start of the tournament.”


For a change, Sharma believes that cricket is not altogether a batsman’s game and this he rationalised by saying how his bowlers have fought back in the lost games.

“MI has always had this theory of playing two overseas seamers and as many overseas batsmen. We restricted RCB to 170 on a wicket which was good to bat. We lost the last two games here (RPS and GL), but we came close to winning them also,” he said, “People think cricket is a batsman’s game, and things like that, but I feel the bowlers will get you in the game all the time and put your team in a position to win.

We have always believed that two overseas fast bowlers will always be helpful on a Wankhede wicket. There is something for the bowlers initially, in the first six. We saw that today; Southee (Tim) was swinging the ball and Mitch (McClenaghan) got the ball to bounce. There was a little bit of grass cover, which was not there last year. This year it seems to be soft initially and then in the second session, it tends to play little better. Three seamers in the team, Hardik as well, suit us. I was really happy with the wicket.”