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Mumbai, April 3 (dna): Thursday seems to be the day Rohit Sharma likes to make new beginnings. As it has turned out, the fourth day of the week seems to be a significant day in his life and cricketing career. He was born on a Thursday (April 30, 1987). He smashed the world record score of 264 on this particular day of the week (November 13, 2014). Two Thursdays ago, Sharma scored a match-winning 137 in the World Cup quarterfinal. The subsequent Thursday, he was looking good before being bowled by a Mitchell Johnson beauty as India exited the World Cup in the semifinals in Sydney.
One more Thursday later (April 2), Sharma joined the Mumbai Indians camp at the Wankhede Stadium, raring to go with stellar performances as he is known to in the annual T20 franchise cricket.
Captain is here
As the opener in the limited-overs format, Sharma took to the nets first up, as if saying to his team-mates ‘the captain is here, I will take first strike’ and appeared at ease with the bowlers, medium-pacers and spinners alike, before moving to a separate nets specifically to take throw-downs.
Also joining the Mumbai Indians’ camp, which began on Tuesday, were the big-built Trinidadian, Kieron Pollard, who was dropped from the West Indies World Cup squad and the discarded Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
Among the first things that the 27-year-old Pollard did after stepping on to the field and after exchanging pleasantries with new head coach Ricky Ponting was to summon two of his bats from the dressing room and give them to a bat repairer, perhaps giving him instructions to fine-tune them. Perhaps, he was telling to condition the willows in such a manner that they get more ‘meat’ in the middle. As the bat repairer vanished from the scene to carry out the West Indian’s instructions, Pollard got straight into business – hitting big.
Pollard sends them flying
It is the season of the T20 cricket. It is the time of IPL, the eighth edition of which begins on April 8 between reigning champions Kolkata Knight Riders and 2013 winners Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. It is time again for big sixes, as if the 463 hits out of the ground during the just-concluded World Cup were not enough. Pollard is certain to extend the boundaries this IPL, going by the way he was clobbering the bowlers at the nets, including Harbhajan.
No ground can be big enough when Pollard gets into the mood. On Thursday, when Mumbai Indians had their first nets under the Wankhede Stadium floodlights in three days, he showed glimpses of what the fans can expect – sending the white balls as far as smashing the glass of the press box in the North Stands.
Pollard has given enough indications that the sixes this IPL are only going to get bigger and bigger.
Much before the Mumbai Indians’ ‘biggies’ arrived and before the nets were conducted seriously, focus was on the ‘throw-downs’. Fielding coach Jonty Rhodes was playing tennis-ball cricket with his two young children, the younger of them looking at ease in playing the pull shot a la Ponting and occasionally edging over the slip cordon enough to clear the imaginary third man.
He was also hitting the ball straight above the bowler’s head in no-man’s land, like his clever illustrious senior used to do, always on the look out for singles when none existed when he played for South Africa.
The tiny boy, after giving a catch to his elder brother, quietly walked away from the pitch and took his ‘fielding position’ without a protest. It was a sight to see Rhodes cool down the two youngsters by pouring water on their heads as the searing sun was beginning to set behind the roof of the Wankhede.
At no point did the two youngsters play a defensive shot, very much a sign that this is the time for Twenty20 cricket and defensive stroke has no role in this format.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians are still not in full strength. They await the arrival of the World Cup finalists – Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Corey Anderson, Mitchell McClenaghan besides Sri Lankan ace Lasith Malinga. It is expected that Mumbai Indians will be in their full force on Saturday when they play a practice match amongst themselves under lights.