• Pollard ‘sick and fed up’ of Pandya bashing

    Mumbai Indians batting coach Kieron Pollard says it is only a matter of time until Hardik Pandya hits form in the IPL.

    Pandya has been booed incessantly since replacing veteran Rohit Sharma as captain of five-time champions the Mumbai Indians for the current edition of the T20 tournament.

    With the 30-year-old Pandya again failing to fire with bat and ball, Mumbai slumped to their fourth loss in six games this term when they faced the Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.

    Pollard gave his full support afterwards to Pandya, who captained Gujarat to the IPL title in 2022 and is expected to be a key player for India at the T20 World Cup in June.

    “I am sick and fed up of [people] looking to pinpoint individuals,” Pollard said after Mumbai’s 20-run loss at their Wankhede Stadium. “Cricket is a team game at the end of the day.

    “This is an individual that is going to represent the country in less than six weeks’ time, and all are going to cheer him and want him to do well.”

    Pandya leaked 26 runs in the final over of Chennai’s innings including three straight sixes by MS Dhoni.

    The all-rounder then scored just two with the bat in the hosts’ unsuccessful chase of 207.

    Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar was scathing.

    “Absolutely ordinary bowling, ordinary captaincy,” he told Star Sports.

    Pandya has been under the cosh ever since returning to Mumbai from Gujarat and taking over the captaincy from the much-loved Rohit.

    Rohit (36), who leads India in all formats, is an icon in Mumbai after leading them to five IPL titles.

    Pollard said it was “high time we try to encourage and stop nitpicking and see if we can get the best out of one of the great all-rounders India has produced.

    “He can bat, bowl and field, and has an X factor about him,” said the former West Indies all-rounder of Pandya.

    “I hope very well deep down within my heart that when he comes out on top, I’ll sit back and watch everyone sing his praises.”

    © Agence France-Presse

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    Simon Borchardt