NEW DELHI: Skipper Rohit Sharma on Wednesday played down talk of any advantage for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League despite them being the only team this season that will play home matches.
The 15th edition of the expanded Twenty20 tournament begins Saturday with the group games among the 10 teams restricted to four venues – one in Pune and three in Mumbai.
Five-time champions Mumbai will take on Delhi Capitals in their first match on Sunday at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
Some of the 10 franchises including Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants had reportedly raised objections with India’s cricket board over Mumbai’s home advantage.
“I don’t believe in added advantage as 70-80 percent (of the Mumbai team) guys have not played in Mumbai before,” Rohit told reporters.
“Only myself, Surya (Suryakumar Yadav), (Kieron) Pollard, Ishan (Kishan), (Jasprit) Bumrah, those guys have played in Mumbai a lot, others have not.”
He added: “We have not played in Mumbai for over two years. In fact the other franchises played here last year, we didn’t get to play.”
Mumbai have retained their core group that won them a record five titles under Rohit after teams reset their squads in the IPL auction last month.
But Mumbai bought back Kishan for a whopping $2 million, with coach Mahela Jayawardene saying the left-hand batter remains crucial for their “top-order balance”.
Kishan, a 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batter, opens the batting with Rohit.
Rohit, who recently took charge of India’s captaincy across formats, also on Wednesday backed cricket’s new rule changes that will come into effect in the IPL.
The controversial “Mankad” run-outs – where a bowler runs out the non-striker in their delivery stride if the batter is out of his crease – will no longer be classed as “unfair play”.
Umpire referral has been increased from one to two and the incoming batter will now be on strike for the next ball after a catch, regardless of whether the batters cross while the ball is in the air.
“The batsmen will have to be careful when to step out of the crease or not,” Rohit said regarding the rare run-out, which is named after Indian all-rounder Vinoo Mankad.
“New batsman taking strike after the previous gets caught out, that is a good rule as the bowler will be able to put pressure on the batsman. Having another DRS review is also good because it is better to have less mistakes in a game.”
Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin ran out England’s Jos Buttler at the non-striker’s end in the 2019 edition of the IPL and was widely criticised for acting against the spirit of cricket.