Pollard backs under-fire Pandya as Mumbai lose again


Mumbai Indians batting coach Kieron Pollard has no doubts that their fans will be singing Hardik Pandya's praises again despite the team's faltering Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign under the all-rounder.

Pandya, who led Gujarat Titans to the title in their debut season in 2022, moved to Mumbai this season and replaced Rohit Sharma as captain.

Rohit had led Mumbai to five IPL titles between 2013-20 and the move to replace him as captain has not gone down well with a large number of Mumbai fans, who booed Pandya even in their home games.

Rohit smashed an unbeaten 105 against Chennai Super Kings on Sunday but Mumbai still slumped to their fourth loss in six matches, dropping to eighth in the 10-team league.

Pandya bled 43 runs in his three overs, 26 of them in the final over of the Chennai innings, for his two wickets and scored two during their chase.

The 30-year-old is expected to play a key role in India's campaign at the T20 World Cup in June and Pollard would not single out the all-rounder for Mumbai's stuttering campaign.

"I am fed up of (people) looking to pinpoint individuals. Cricket is a team sport at the end of the day," Pollard said after the loss against Chennai.

"This is an individual that is going to represent the country in less than six weeks' time, and all are going to cheer him and want him to do well.

"So it's high time we try to ... stop nitpicking and see if we can get the best out of one of the great all-rounders India has produced. He can bat, bowl and field, and has a X-factor about him.

"I hope, deep down within my heart, that when he comes out on top, I'll sit back and watch everyone sing his praises."

With four away games coming up, Mumbai will have to find a way to bounce back if they are to stay alive in the playoff race.

"We just need to keep our intensity high, be smart about our plans," said Pandya.

"If we can do that, we can get the goal we want."

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