What’s the story?
Former New Zealand speedster Shane Bond said that one of his main priorities as the bowling coach of the Mumbai Indians franchise was to effectively manage the workload among the side’s pacers during the course of the IPL.
The Rohit Sharma-led franchise have a lot of fast bowlers at their disposal with the likes of Lasith Malinga, Hardik Pandya, Mitchell McLenaghan, Mitchell Johnson, Tim Southee and many others in their ranks and Bond conceded that it was essential that the side utilised the squad strength to their advantage to avoid unwanted injuries.
Bond revealed that the team’s think-tank is placing special focus on Malinga, who recently made a comeback to the sport after a lengthy injury lay-off.
"We are aware of all our bowlers and (need) to manage workload, and in particular for the guys (players) who have come back from injury. There is a lot of discussion between myself, (MI coach) Mahela Jayawardene and the team management about managing him (Malinga) through a tighter schedule (of the) IPL this year," Bond said.
"Even though Mali (Malinga) hasn't had the best of times, there were going to be games he was to be pulled out because we wanted to make sure he is fresh and rested," he added.
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One of the most feared bowlers in the world, especially in the shorter formats of the game, Malinga has seen his game time considerably reduced due to a number of niggling injuries. The speedster’s wicket-taking abilities have also been badly affected as a result, with Malinga picking up only two wickets in five T20 internationals for Sri Lanka since making a return to the international fold after a gap of nearly two years in February this year.
In four matches in the tenth edition of the IPL thus far, the 33-year-old has picked up just four wickets conceding runs at just under 11 an over. Despite the uninspiring figures, Bond is certain that the Sri Lankan will come good and is drawing up plans so that he and the side’s other pacers are available for the latter stages of the tournament.
The heart of the matter
Contrary to the earlier editions of the IPL, where the team started out slow before making a roaring comeback when the tournament got going, Mumbai Indians have made a spectacular start to IPL 2017, sitting top of the table with six wins from eight matches so far.
Two players who have played a significant role in the team’s good run of form are New Zealand’s Mitchell McLenaghan and Indian youngster Jasprit Bumrah who have taken 12 and 9 wickets respectively. The impressive performances of the duo have meant that international stars like Mitchell Johnson and Tim Southee have found matches hard to come by while India’s very own R Vinay Kumar is yet to play a single game.
Bond, though, indicated that the scenario could change as the side look to manage the workload of the players to avoid burn-out or even worse, injuries. Aiming to have an extended run in the tournament, the former pacer stated that the team management was particular about having the players fit and ready for the knockout stages of the tournament and insisted that they wouldn’t hesitate to rotate their squad.
Following the loss against Rising Pune Supergiant in the much-talked about Maharashtra derby on Monday, the Mumbai Indians have some time to regroup with their next fixture slated for Saturday against Gujarat Lions before they take on Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.
With matches coming thick and fast in India’s premier T20 competition, players get very little time to recover once they pick up an injury. The tenth edition of the IPL has already lost a number of stars owing to fitness issues and the list is only getting longer with every passing day.
So it is always better to take necessary precautions to prevent any unwanted injuries and Bond is looking to do just that with the fast bowlers at his disposal at Mumbai Indians. As a player who had his fair share of injury troubles, Bond is best placed to advise the present generation on what not to do so that they do not face the kind of difficulty he had to go through.