IPL 2024: Tried to use advantage of new ball swinging along, says Pollard on using Hardik as new-ball bowler

Ahmedabad, March 25 : After a six-run defeat to Gujarat Titans in their IPL 2024 opening game, batting coach Kieron Pollard insisted that skipper Hardik Pandya’s ability to swing the ball was a major reason behind him being a new-ball bowler in Sunday’s clash at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

Playing at the venue for the first time since moving to Mumbai from Gujarat, Hardik opened the bowling against his former side, but gave away 20 runs in his first two overs, despite having someone like Jasprit Bumrah in their ranks.

“You have to plan and decide what you want to do as a team. Hardik (Pandya) has also bowled with the new ball for Gujarat over the last couple of years. He swung the new ball and bowled it well, which was nothing new to us. We tried to use the advantage of the new ball swinging along. When I look at the decision made, there is nothing wrong with it, and we move on,” he said in the post-match press conference.

Asked about the logic behind Hardik batting at number seven, who couldn’t finish off the chase of 169 for Mumbai after falling to Umesh Yadav in the final over, Pollard remarked, “No decision is made on full autonomy, so we can’t say it is his decision. As a team, we have plans; we talk about setting entry points for batters. The top order batted deep into the game, and we also had two power hitters to go in the back end. Usually, if you look at it over time, Tim (David) has finished games for us, and Hardik has done it over the years.”

“So, at any point, any one of them can resurrect the situation. It didn’t happen tonight, so there will likely be a chat about who should have gone earlier. But all of those things are in hindsight, and as a team, we make decisions, so let’s put a stop to “Hardik made a decision, Hardik did this, Hardik did that’. We are a team. We make decisions collectively as one,” he added.

Pollard also backed wicketkeeper-batter Ishan Kishan to come good in upcoming matches after falling for a duck in Sunday’s clash.

“He’s an experienced guy within our setup. And we expect big things from Ishan. He’s in a good space, has been practicing well, and has been fairly decently, so hopefully, within the next couple of games, we can see an outstanding performance from him, and then all of you guys will continue to laud his praise when he does that.”

Punjab all-rounder Naman Dhir made his IPL debut in the match and batted at number three, leaving many onlookers surprised. Pollard credited MI’s scouting programme for unearthing little-known gems like Dhir, who had played just five T20 games before Sunday’s IPL game against Gujarat.

“Firstly, kudos go to the scouts and all the guys who work behind the scenes and continue to unearth all of these talents. He was on the radar. For us, he has been within our setup for the last couple of months, going to England and developing. So, it was something that we’d seen in that guy, and he came out and was very expressive.”

“Again, with the lofted shot, we are excited about these things, but I thought he had much more to offer. His calmness, even when we lost that first wicket, and continuing with that intent is a good start for him.”

“But again, this is merely the start of something. At the end of it, he scored 20-odd (runs). Let’s give him that space; let him enjoy the moment. It was a big occasion for all these guys, but as a franchise, we continue to unearth new talent so we can continue as we go along.”

Despite the loss, Pollard signed off by maintaining a positive outlook for the rest of the competition. “Obviously, in the ideal world, that’s what you want (to win). But when you are playing real cricket against professionals, they will have their plans.”

“For about six overs of that game where you are in control and within the last quarter when batting, we let it slip and ended on the losing side. So, a couple of things to look at. The tournament is long, and the guys are coming in and understanding what is needed at this level. We will get it right.”

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