Harbhajan Singh © BCCI
Harbhajan Singh will now turn up for Chennai Super Kings © BCCI

Former India  leg-spinner, captain and Mumbai Indians’ mentor, Anil Kumble, believes the defending champions will miss the services of veteran offie Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan wasn’t retained by the franchise in IPL 2018 auction at Bengaluru, and was later picked up by rivals, Chennai Super Kings. Kumble further pointed out that Krunal Pandya  would have to spearhead the spin department in absence of senior man Harbhajan. Mumbai face-off Chennai in the tournament-opener at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on April 7.

Mumbai Indians will certainly miss the experience of Harbhajan Singh as spinner. Krunal Pandya is a really good all-rounder, but he will have to lead the spinners now,” said Team mentor Kumble while speaking during the Star Sports Select: The Dugout’ program.

“They have Rahul (Chahar) as a leg spinner, but again an unknown youngster. the experience of someone like Bhajji (Harbhajan) during those four overs and also what he brings with the bat as well … but having said that they have the other bases covered,” added India’s former head coach.

Kumble, India’s leading wicket taker in Tests, believes that Bangladesh pacer Muztifizur Rahim and India’s Jasprit Bumrah will play a crucial role in the death overs.

“The Mumbai Indians have got Mustifizur Rahim, so that he can play that role of bowling in the death overs. They have (Jasprit) Bumrah, who has grown leaps and bounds, he is the go-to bowler for the team, said Kumble when asked whether Mumbai will also miss the services of Lasith Malinga, who is now their bowling mentor.

Kumble also feels that the U-19 players would be under everyone’s notice in this IPL post their success in World Cup held in New Zealand early this year. In addition, another good outing in such a major tournament would push their case for national selection.

“The U19 boys would certainly be in focus. Prithvi Shaw, the Nagarkotis (referring to Kamlesh Nagarkoti), all of them would be certainly in focus. It will be a big opportunity for these youngsters to showcase their talent. The Hardik Pandya, the Bumrahs, all have come through the IPL, it is an opportunity for everyone. We know Shreyas Iyer, no matter how much domestic performances he had, but as soon as had a good IPL performance, then suddenly people start noticing it. So everyone in domestic cricket understand that IPL is a great platform for them to showcase the talent and possibly one step closer to making it to the Indian team. But the Under 19 boys who did well in the World Cup, would be under sharp focus,” Kumble signed off.