Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene has emphasised on the importance of workload management for Hardik Pandya as the star all-rounder returns from a long break due to injury.
Pandya is one of the key players for Mumbai Indians, who will be beginning their title defence in the opening match of the upcoming Indian Premier League against Chennai Super Kings.
Pandya succumbed to a stress fracture last year, which caused him to be out of action since the South Africa T20Is at home in September 2019.
Jayawardene thus mentioned it was imperative for Mumbai to not solely depend on Pandya and use him smartly to avoid untoward injury woes.
"Hardik is coming back from an injury. So we will have to be mindful of that but he is looking very good in the nets," he said in a virtual press conference.
"Both the players [Pandya brothers] have been fantastic for MI over the last three or four years. It brings a lot of energy to the group."
In the batting department, Pandya has usually been assigned the finisher's job given his unmatched ability to effortlessly send the ball into the stands on a regular basis. But Jayawardene was keen on giving the valuable player a floating role in the line-up to share the onus of power-hitting across the rest of the major contenders.
"We have used him [Hardik] in different roles in the past and we will look into that. We will have quite a number of other players who can fit into that role as well, so whenever the opportunity is there we ask anyone to finish the game off."
"It doesn't just fall on Hardik but it is one of his responsibilities, so we want to try and challenge players in different ways in this camp, so we will continue to do that," he said.
Meanwhile, the former Sri Lankan skipper also discarded any plans to disturb the settled opening pair of Quinton de Kock and captain Rohit Sharma in order to accommodate new inductee Chris Lynn.
The explosive Lynn has made his name in franchise-based competitions around the globe with his devastating batting in the top-order but Jayawardene feels it wouldn't be wise to rush him in to open for Mumbai.
"Having options is always great. Chris Lynn is a great addition to the squad but the combination of Rohit and Quinton has been there for us, last season they complement each other well," he said.
"It has been very consistent and both are well-experienced cricketers. I always feel 'why fix something that ain't broken'. So we will continue to go with that but having Lynn as an option gives us flexibility in the squad."
Ace paceman Jasprit Bumrah remains integral to Mumbai's bid for their fifth IPL title, though concerns will linger over possible exhaustion for the 26-year-old as India will be heading to Australia later this year for a gruelling four-match Test series.
Bumrah, who looked off-colour in the limited-overs fixtures against New Zealand and Australia before the coronavirus shutdown, has worked on his strength and conditioning, according to Jayawardene.
"Bumrah has been training really hard during the quarantine period because of Indian commitments [which got postponed].
"He has had a lot of bowling done back home as well, trying to keep up the load, because following the IPL, there will probably a Test series [Australia] for the Indian boys.
"For IPL, he looks quite sharp and Bumrah being very professional, he has looked after himself very, very well during that quarantine period and he is quite eager to go out and perform."