Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma took a couple of brave decisions during this title winning season. One of them was resting veteran spinner, Harbhajan Singh, just after the team reached the crucial stage of the tournament.
It was surprising to see Rohit Sharma use almost all the prominent names warming up the bench in the final league match against Kolkata Knight Riders.
The move saw a whopping six changes in the XI with Ambati Rayudu, Saurabh Tiwary, Krunal Pandya, Vinay Kumar, Tim Southee and Mitchell Johnson swapping places with Lasith Malinga, Nitish Rana, Parthiv Patel, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah and Harbhajan Singh.
In the following game, which was the first qualifiers, the changes were reversed with only Ambati Rayudu and Karn Sharma keeping up their places. While Rayudu’s inclusion did not raise any eyebrows but Harbhajan Singh’s exclusion became a point of debate.
Karn Sharma retained his place based on his performances but many felt that decision to rest Bhajji could backfire. Luckily, it did not, as the gamble paid off. The leg spinner did a commendable job and played a vital role in MI’s win.
Speaking after the finals, Rohit described Harbhajan’s exclusion as nothing but a tactical move.
“We’ve mentioned this previously. It was a tactical change, nothing related to performance and things like that. I don’t know why you’re asking this again,” Rohit Sharma quoted.
Overall Harbhajan had a good season where he snapped eight wickets in the 11 matches with an economy of 6.48. The wickets column might seem humble but it is still impressive given the fact that he bowled mostly during the powerplay overs.
Karn Sharma, in all, picked up 13 wickets in just nine games. He seemed at his best during the knockouts and also during the final. In the first qualifier against Rising Pune Supergiant, he took 1/30 in a losing cause.
In the second qualifier, he grabbed a superb 4/16 against KKR to play a central role in bundling out the opposition for just 107 and help MI claim a one-sided victory.
In the finals, he kept his place and repaid the trust with an economical spell of 0/18 from four overs during the defence of the lowly 130 runs target.