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IPL 2023: It will be a tough call for Mumbai Indians to release Kieron Pollard, says Harbhajan Singh

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh feels that it will be a tough call for five-time IPL champions to release T20 stalwart and former West Indies cricketer Kieron Pollard ahead of the mini-auction to be held on December 23 in Kochi.

Pollard was bought by Mumbai in 2009 and rose to become a legendary figure with the side, playing a pivotal role in winning IPL titles on all five occasions. But Pollard was a shadow of his dominating self in IPL 2022, sitting out the last three matches as the side finished at the bottom of the points table.

“Well, I think it’s going to be very difficult for Mumbai Indians to release Kieron Pollard. He’s been there for many years. But yes, there are times when you have to take a few tough calls and maybe this is the time. They have to move forward and make a team for the next 4-5 years and try to find someone who can do what Pollard has done over the years,” said Harbhajan on the ‘Game Plan – IPL Retention Special’ show on Star Sports.

Harbhajan, who was a member of the Mumbai franchise from 2008-17, feels that there are options in the Mumbai side as well as in the mini auction who can do the role done by Pollard in the past.

“Yes, they have Tim David, who can do a similar sort of job and of course, there is another Australian in the auction that is Cameroon Green. I think they will be eyeing him to be part of the Mumbai setup. Of course, it’s going to be a tough call, but at some stage, you have to take those calls.”

Mumbai had also brought England pacer Jofra Archer for a whopping INR 8 crore in the IPL mega auction despite the pacer being unavailable for IPL 2022 due to an elbow injury. With Jasprit Bumrah also recovering from a back injury which led to him being ruled out of the Men’s T20 World Cup, former India left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan feels Mumbai need to buy a death bowler from the mini-auction.

“I think they still need to look for a death bowler. It’s very important because Jofra Archer’s coming back from injury. Jasprit Bumrah is also coming back from injury. Last year, what I felt from their bowling department, with Jofra not being there, they really did not have that sharpness in their bowling, especially in the death overs.”

“They kept going with Basil Thampi and Jaydev Unadkat as well, so definitely, even if Jofra and Jasprit Bumrah come back, they still need someone at the back end at least for the sake of a replacement. If something goes wrong between Bumrah and Archer, they need someone who can bowl at the death. So, I really think they’ll be looking at that as well.”

For Sunrisers Hyderabad, retaining New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson will be the main cause of concern considering his diminishing returns with the bat as well as a captain in IPL 2022 and the T20 World Cup too.

Asked if it would be wise for Hyderabad to retain Williamson, former head coach and ex-Australian cricketer Tom Moody said, “It’s an interesting one for Sunrisers because when you commit at the beginning of a big auction to retain a player of the calibre of Kane Williamson at Rs 14 crore, you would think that they are thinking about the long term. They’re thinking about the bigger picture.”

“But clearly, he’s had a disastrous campaign in the last four months in T20 cricket, certainty not up to his standards. We know his quality as a leader. He’s a highly respected leader in the IPL and globally. So, it just depends on how much weight they put on that leadership. So, whether they release him or not, to me 14 crore is a lot of money for any player, let alone a player that I suppose brings to the table the runs from a batting perspective.”

–IANS

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