Back where he belongs

While his crucial innings of 47-runs in the VIVO Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 final is still fresh in our minds, Krunal has returned to the Mumbai Indians squad for 2018, and we are delighted to have him back. He has been instrumental for Mumbai Indians in the last two seasons and we were certain that we wanted him back in the MI blue. The auction day on 27th January gave some nervous moments to Krunal, but he also anticipated his re-inclusion in the MI squad. “I was nervous on 27th because I knew my name would come up on the auction day, but I was excited as well. So, on that day, since 9:30 am, I started watching the auction. Till my name came up, it was around 4pm and I was quite excited to know that I will get to play for Mumbai Indians.”

Even though he was nervous, he knew that it was MI where he belonged. He has his heart here, he started off his IPL career here, and he is keen to make an even bigger impact this season for MI. He holds a certain attachment with Mumbai Indians and he was not shy in expressing it. “I was quite confident that Mumbai Indians will pick me. I wanted to play for MI since I started my journey here itself. I’ve said this previously that Mumbai Indians is my dream team, my favorite team, even when I was not playing in the IPL. So, for me, playing for Mumbai Indians means a lot. There are so many things Mumbai Indians has given me and taught me as a player.”

Krunal’s re-entry into the team means that the Pandya brothers will be playing together once again. Hardik has been an exceptional player for MI in the past few seasons and Krunal has been no different in his last two seasons here. Together they build a strong unit which creates a strong batting middle order along with Kieron Pollard. It was not just Krunal who was elated, his brother was ecstatic too. Krunal shares Hardik’s reaction, “He was happy to know this. He was happy that we, both brothers would be playing in the same team. Eventually, it will help us and the team as well because we know each other very well and we have played cricket together since our childhood days. So, it’s good for the team and it’s good for us as well.”

MI secured Krunal’s place in the squad by using the Right-To-Match (RTM) card. This shows that the intent of Mumbai Indians was clear since the beginning. There could be a lot of expectations on Krunal after being retained through the RTM card. He is ready to shoulder all the responsibilities and the possible pressure on him. “It depends on how you take it. For me, there’s no pressure. I remember the first time I got picked for the Mumbai Indians team, I got 2 crore rupees. Even then, it was said that, ‘You’ve not even played first class cricket then how will you manage the pressure?’ Many such questions were asked. But I don’t think of such things. I like to prepare myself before the tournament and I like to take it game by game. Obviously, pressure would be there in every game you play, but apart from that there’s no other pressure about being bought using RTM, or the amount for which I was bought. I believe in keeping my basics intact and that’s it.”

Mumbai Indians have always been like a family over just being a professional team. The members here share a special relationship with each other. Over the years, this has helped the team build a great overall unit. He shed more light on this aspect of Mumbai Indians. “Mumbai Indians is like a family and the best part about it is that everyone is involved, including owners, players, support-staff for the benefit of the team. The relationship with our owners is more than just an owner-player relationship. It’s good because we are more like family and friends together, rather than just professionals sitting together. It’s good for the players as well as for me.”

Apart from his brother, Hardik Pandya, there are other few players with whom Krunal gets along pretty well. He was asked to name one player he was happy to see back at MI and his answer was an easy guess. “Obviously, I’ll definitely say Kieron Pollard, as I’m close to him. From last two years, me, Hardik and Pollard are batting at 5,6,7 (batting positions) so we know each other’s games very well. So, I was quite happy when I saw pollard back at MI too. It’s more or less the same batting line-up which includes Rohit Sharma, Pollard, me and Hardik. Apart from Pollard, he was also delighted that many other players will be playing alongside him. “I’m excited about Evin Lewis as well. I’ve seen him play a couple of times. He hits the ball long. It’s a great team to be in! Then there’s Pat Cummins. His inclusion will be a benefit for us at Wankhede where the ball does carry. Then we have Mustafizur and we have Ishan. We have a good team, I can’t name one player. I guess all the players are good.”

Krunal Pandya’s return is surely great news for every MI fan as his all-round abilities are a package of entertainment for every spectator. We can feel assured that he will entertain us with his fireworks on the field, and has a small expectation from the MI Paltan. “Paltan, we are going to rock this season too. And I’m really excited and I hope you keep supporting us the way you are supporting us from last so many years.”



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