Abu Dhabi [UAE], September 17 (ANI): Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma on Thursday admitted that the side will surely miss the services of pacer Lasith Malinga and said 'it is hard to fill his boots'.
Lasith Malinga has requested unavailability for the season for personal reasons and to be with family back home in Sri Lanka, as per an MI release. Australian pacer James Pattinson joined the side as Malinga's replacement.
Despite the absence of Malinga, MI has Kiwi pacers Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan, Australia's Nathan Coulter-Nile, and Indian speedster Jasprit Bumrah.
"It is hard to fill the boots of Malinga, whatever he has done for Sri Lanka and Mumbai, it's remarkable. He has been a match-winner for us, whenever we found ourselves in a hard situation, he bailed us out. Unfortunately, he is not part of the team this year, but we have Coulter-Nile, Boult this year and these players will play a crucial role. What Malinga did is uncomparable," Rohit said while addressing a pre-season virtual press conference with head coach Mahela Jayawardene.
"It is important the guys who take his place come without any baggage. Here in Mumbai, we make clear for our players as to what is their role. That is what the culture is at MI," he added.
Commenting on his batting position, Rohit cleared the air and confirmed that he will open the batting.
South Africa's limited-overs skipper Quinton de Kock or Chris Lynn is most likely to feature alongside Rohit in the opening.
"I opened the tournament last year and I will do that this year as well. I enjoy batting at the top order, there are no options closed for me this year and I am open to doing any role," Rohit said.
"Chris obviously brings experience with him but Quinton and Rohit were successful and consistent last season. They understand each other well. It's always good to have a cover and Chris is a quality addition to the squad," Jayawardene added.
Talking about his experience of living in a bio-bubble, the Mumbai skipper said his side is mentally well prepared for these conditions.
"Like we all know it will be a different IPL, we were mentally prepared for an IPL like this, we talked to all our boys on a video conference as to how we will proceed if there is a bio-bubble. Our management has done an amazing job, they have created great facilities for us where we can chill and spend a great time with our family. All of us seems in good spirit because of the atmosphere we have created here. It is all about preparation now and getting into the right shape," Rohit said.
"There is pressure of being the defending champions, but we have dealt with it before. Not a lot of cricketers in our camp have played before. People who have been here, have shared their experiences of playing here, the communication would be the key. I think mentally its about going out there and understanding how the pitch is behaving and then planning your game according to that. We have played a couple of practice matches here, pitches will play a critical part here and reading those pitches will be crucial," he added.
Ahead of their first encounter against Chennai Super Kings, Rohit said he is expecting a great contest against them.
"CSK is probably one of the most successful IPL teams, you can not take them for granted, they have quality players and they will come out all guns blazing. Everybody will want to start on a high so we would be expecting a great contest against them. We need to make sure that all bases are covered for us," he said.
The 13th edition of the league will start from September 19, with CSK locking horns with Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener. (ANI)