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Harbhajan Singh might not be as sharp a bowler as he was in his heydays but Anil Kumble believes Mumbai Indians will miss the experience off-spinner.
The Punjab star plied his trade for Mumbai Indians for the first ten seasons. During his stay, he helped the team win three IPL titles and a couple of Champions League T20 titles.
With 127 wickets, he is the third highest wicket-taker in the history of the league. However, Mumbai decided not to retain him ahead of the eleventh season.
As a result, Chennai Super Kings went for him and secured his services for the forthcoming season.
Well, whether Mumbai were right or not in letting Harbhajan go could become very much clear in the very first game of the tournament.
Defending champions Mumbai will take on Chennai Super Kings on Saturday and Harbhajan would be keen to make his mark if he gets a chance in the playing XI.
“Mumbai Indians will certainly miss the experience of Harbhajan Singh as a spinner. Krunal Pandya is a really good all-rounder, but he will have to lead the spinners now,” Kumble said on Star Sports.
“They have Rahul (Chahar) as a leg-spinner, but again an unknown youngster. The experience of someone like Bhajji (Harbhajan) during those four overs and also what he brings with the bat as well … but having said that they have the other bases covered,” he added.
Kumble, further said Muztifizur Rahim and Jasprit Bumrah would play a crucial role in the death overs for Mumbai Indians.
“The Mumbai Indians have got Mustifizur Rahim so that he can play that role of bowling in the death overs. They have (Jasprit) Bumrah, who has grown leaps and bounds, he is the go-to bowler for the team,” said Kumble.
The legendary spinner proceeded by saying the under-19 players would be under focus during the IPL. The likes of Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti have become household names after leading India to the title in the Under-19 World Cup.
“The U19 boys would certainly be in focus. Prithvi Shaw, the Nagarkotis (referring to Kamlesh Nagarkoti), all of them would be certainly in focus. It will be a big opportunity for these youngsters to showcase their talent.
“The Hardik Pandya, the Bumrahs, all have come through the IPL; it is an opportunity for everyone. We know Shreyas Iyer, no matter how much domestic performances he had, but as soon as had a good IPL performance, then suddenly people start noticing it.”
“So everyone in domestic cricket understands that IPL is a great platform for them to showcase the talent and possibly one step closer to making it to the Indian team. But the Under 19 boys who did well in the World Cup, would be under sharp focus,” he concluded.