It hasn’t been a memorable start for the Mumbai Indians in the second leg of IPL 2021 – losing its first two fixtures against Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders. And ahead of its next game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, the team’s director of cricket operations, Zaheer Khan, is confident that Hardik Pandya would be fit to play against the Virat Kohli-led side.

“Well, we have a practice session today lined up, so after we finish the press conference we are going to go there and will take an informed call on that. He (Hardik) has started practicing, that’s what I can share with you guys right now. So, we are hopeful that he (Hardik) will be fit and available. That’s what we are hoping,” the former India pacer said at the pre-match conference.

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Earlier, Mumbai Indians head coach Mahela Jayawardane had said that Pandya was benched against CSK due to a little niggle.

“As you know, IPL is a very highly competitive tournament, so teams are always trying to have a one upon each other and they are getting smart in their preparation and these days every team is analysing every other team. So we have to stay on the top.

“The focus has always been on us, this team has been so successful because we have been focusing on our processes, our strengths and our players who are taking the field. And these are the players who have got us the championship, so we have that kind of approach and we have had quite a lot of good conversations around those things,” he said.

“When it comes to the back-end of the tournament, the pressure is (high), this team certainly knows how to perform under pressure,” added Zaheer.

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MI middle-order has misfired in the first two games since the IPL’s resumption. “When you look at the scorecard, you will say ya (laughs), there is a concern.” But Zaheer stressed that it was just a matter of time.

“But I don’t see it (the middle-order form) as a concern. It is just about finding that rhythm. You have seen in this format and this tournament particularly that once you get on a roll, you can win a couple of games together,” he said.

“This team has been so successful because of certain processes in terms of form, it is always just one innings away, be it a batter or a bowler and for you to win games of cricket, everything has to come together,” he explained.

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