Mumbai Indians, the four-time IPL champions, released 10 players last week including Jason Behrendorff while retaining 18 in the trade-off before the IPL Auctions in Kolkata on December 19. The prominent names which Mumbai Indians picked involved Trent Boult and Dhawal Kulkarni from Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals respectively. While this will be the fourth franchise for the New Zealand left-arm pacer, it is a homecoming for Kulkarni who has played most of his cricket in Mumbai. However, former India pacer and Mumbai Indians' Director of Cricket Zaheer Khan revealed the reason why he went for Boult and Kulkarni. The prime reason was the fitness of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.
"This year is going to be different because we have had some challenges in terms of injuries. Hardik Pandya to start with, had a back surgery, Bumrah has been out of action with a few back issues and Jason Behrendorff has also had a back surgery. So that was one of the concerns and the trades (Boult and Kulkarni) were reflection of what was the planning for the upcoming season. We thought that we needed more strength around the bowling department and hence the trades with Capitals and Royals," Zaheer said in a video message.
Pandya, who played the Twenty20 International series against South Africa recently, has undergone a successful back surgery in London. Hardik first sustained the injury during the Asia Cup in UAE last September. He recovered in time to play in the IPL and the World Cup before the injury resurfaced. However, the surgery is expected to keep him on the sidelines for close to five months. "Surgery done successfully. Extremely grateful to everyone for your wishes. Will be back in no time! Till then miss me," Hardik posted a message with a picture on his Instagram account.
Apart from Pandya, Bumrah has also been laid low by a stress fracture to his back which he sustained during the series against West Indies. Bumrah was ruled out of the three Test series against South Africa due to a back stress fracture. Bumrah had been India's key factor in their success overseas in 2018, picking up five wicket hauls in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies. The Gujarat pacer's success in Australia helped India win a series Down Under for the first time.
In the series against West Indies, Bumrah took a hat-trick and became the quickest Indian pacer to 50 wickets. Many people believe said Bumrah's unorthodox action could have possibly contributed to his stress fracture. Following the injury, he visited London to see a specialist.