Mumbai Indians’ (MI) Krunal Pandya lost his place in Indian T20 team to Ravindra Jadeja late last year, but the left-arm spinner who also provides big-hitting option feels his performances for MI can bring him back into India reckoning.
With Hardik Pandya not bowling at all and Kieron Pollard bowling limited number of overs this season, Krunal has been tasked with the job of playing the lead all-rounder’s role.
So far, Krunal has picked five wickets in eight matches and conceded 7.8 runs per over while with the bat, he hasn’t got too many balls to face as the MI batting line-up has clicked.
“I like challenges; I like facing new things. It helps you to know [your] strength and weaknesses. I love taking responsibility,” he told reporters in a virtual interaction.
“I have been doing this role for MI — coming into bat with a few balls to face and picking wickets here and there — for the last four-five years. This year also, I am happy with the way I have gone about my bowling and batting. Our top order has batted well, so I have hardly got to bat, but whatever I have batted, I have made an impact with the bat and also with the ball. What you say is right that it is a thankless job, but that is what I love doing. I like those tough situations as a player,” he said.
Krunal sees himself as a player who can make an impact and is happy chipping in with match-winning performances even if they are small.
“It is not about how many runs or wickets I have taken. It is about the impact. Sometimes, in a shorter format, if you bowl a six-run over especially when the opposition needs 15 an over, the over plays an important role, it is like a four-wicket or three-wicket haul. For example, against SRH, I made a four-ball 20 but that was an impactful performance which brought the momentum back to us. I never thought of scoring big runs but only about what is needed by the team. The good thing is I have always kept team first,” he said.
Pandya says the job that he, his brother Hardik, or Kieron Pollard has is tough. They all come into bat when not many balls are left to face, but he says if it helps the team he is okay with it.
“It is not an easy number to bat, you don’t get to face enough balls. But we’ve been doing it for the last few seasons. We [him, Hardik and Kieron] know each other and often discuss it. It has worked for us and we are flexible about it. The team’s success ratio with three of us batting that low down has been good,” he said.
The left-handed Krunal admits he has limitations but he is willing to learn new things every season.
“Obviously, what I have understood is that at the highest level, every year you have to develop new skill. To survive here or for longevity, you have to improve as a player. During the lockdown I reflected on things I have done till now and what I need to do,” he informed.
“Hardik and I got time, discussed cricket, life, and how to improve — the adjustments I have to make as a bowler or batsman. Hardik has been big help during the lockdown. We practised and discussed cricket.”