Mumbai, December 20: There can be no better way to chill than a round of golf after an intense IPL auction day in Kolkata. Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, one of the avid golfers among international cricketers, had an enjoyable day at the Willingdon Sports Club here on Friday (December 20).
It was a much-needed break for Jayawardene after spending a few hectic hours in the auction room on Thursday (December 19) as part of the Mumbai Indians core group that made some careful buys within the available budget.
Head coach of MI since 2017, the 42-year-old said the idea was to balance the side. "We went in with five spaces to fill and with our small purse, we managed to fill four. We are happy," Jayawardene, a Tiger Woods admirer, told MyKhel after playing ProAm golf.
Later, talking to the media, Jayawardene said: "For us, it was an auction to strengthen certain areas and try and be different. It is a great squad we have, good balance but still ensure we are a bit different every season, add a bit of an 'X' factor. It is for one year before we go back into the big auction, we have to rebuild again. But in certain areas that we needed, we went in and bought some smart players who we think can utilise this season."
For Jayawardene, the key word is flexibility. "It is always good to have options. We ask a lot of players to be flexible, especially in T20 where no role is fixed. We have a great combination in Quinton (de Kock) and Rohit (Sharma) as openers. They were brilliant last year. Lynny (Chris Lynn) will bring in something different," he said.
Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, two key MI players, are currently recovering from injuries and Jayawardene hoped to see them back in action at the earliest.
"He (Bumrah) is good and started training. He was bowling to the (Indian team) guys in Vizag. The Mumbai Indians staff is closely monitoring his progress. Hardik (recovering from a surgery for lower back pain) is also making good progress. Both of them hopefully will play against Sri Lanka (T20I series in January) or Australia (ODI). I am not sure how quickly they both will be coming through as it depends on medical staff. As long as they are playing in January or February, it is fine.
"More than MI, these two are valuable for Indian national team. It is important we manage all that. We don't put a lot of pressure on Jasprit. We created a very good bowling unit around him so he does not take pressure too much. He is an exciting young guy. You have to realise he is still young, a lot more to come from him. He is learning every day. He is brilliant," said Jayawardene.
Jayawardene was the captain of the Sri Lankan team whose bus was attacked by terrorists en route to the stadium on Day 3 of the Lahore Test in March 2009, after which no international team went there. But Test cricket returned to Pakistan with Sri Lanka currently touring the country for a two-Test series.
Asked if it was the right decision by Sri Lanka Cricket to tour Pakistan, Jayawardene said: "It was anyway going to happen eventually. Sport is something that unites things. A lot of other teams have gone before as well. It (attack) is more than 10 years ago. People have to move on. What had happened was unfortunate. Times have changed. I guess it is probably the right thing to do at the right time."
(G Krishnan is a freelance writer based in Mumbai)