The availability of Mumbai Indians (MI) captain Rohit Sharma was one of the big talking points ahead of the franchise’s Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 opening match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Sunday, April 2.
MI will take on RCB at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru in the second match of the doubleheader. According to some reports, there were doubts over Rohit’s availability for Sunday’s IPL 2023 fixture after he missed the pre-season captain’s meet in Ahmedabad on Friday due to health issues.
At a pre-match press conference on Saturday, April 1, however, Mumbai Indians head coach Mark Boucher cleared the air over Rohit’s fitness. Stating that the skipper is available for the match against RCB, he commented:
“Yes, Rohit is fit. He has trained the last two days and is 100 per cent ready to go. I think he didn’t feel particularly well that morning (Friday) and just as a precaution, we told him to stay at home. There are a lot of photo shoots the boys have had to do. He’s not had a lot of time to himself so we thought it was better.”
Boucher also confirmed that fast bowler Jofra Archer was available for selection for the big match against RCB. The former South African keeper said:
“Jofra is one hundred per cent ready for tomorrow. He skipped the optional training session and felt that he was ready to go for tomorrow’s (2 April) game against RCB. We are really happy with his progression in the last couple of days since he has been here.”
Injury-prone Archer could be crucial to Mumbai Indians’ fortunes in IPL 2023 in lead pacer Jasprit Bumrah’s absence due to a recurring back issue.
“We have a couple of guys who could do Bumrah’s role” – Rohit Sharma
Speaking ahead of the start of the tournament, MI skipper Rohit confirmed Bumrah’s unavailability due to fitness issues but asserted that the franchise have a couple of players who can fit into his role. He said:
“We know that Bumrah’s not available. We have a couple of guys who could do Bumrah’s role in the team. We will keep an eye on that, hopefully, whatever they space Bumrah was in, the others guys can come and do that for us.”
He added that Bumrah’s absence would be an opportunity for youngsters to make an impact. The 35-year-old commented:
“He (Bumrah) is a big miss. But it’s an opportunity for the youngsters in the team.I don’t want to put too much pressure on the youngsters. Leading up to the first game, guys know what their role is, the last thing we want to do is put pressure on them.”
Mumbai Indians recently named right-arm fast bowler Sandeep Warrier as Bumrah’s replacement for IPL 2023.