New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: Days ahead of the Indian T-20 league opener in the United Arab Emirates, Mumbai team’s skipper Rohit Sharma has admitted that the side will miss the service of Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankan pacer who requested unavailability for the upcoming season citing personal reasons.

"I don't think it is easy to come and fill his boots. He has been a match-winner for Mumbai. I have said it many times, whenever we sort of find ourselves in trouble, Malinga was the one to bail us out from that," Sharma said at a pre-season virtual press conference with head coach Mahela Jayawardene, as quoted in a report by news agency PTI.

Malinga was instrumental in Mumbai’s win last year, when he defended mere eight runs in the final over of the season’s final match against Chennai. Mumbai has roped in  Australian speedster James Pattinson as Malinga’s replacement.

"His experience will be missed, what he did with MI is unbelievable and it is unfortunate that he is not a part of the team this year. We have got likes - (James) Pattinson, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohsin (Khan) and these are the names that we are looking to replace Malinga with. But obviously what Malinga did for Mumbai, it is not just comparable," Sharma said.

The Mumbai skipper confirmed he will open the batting in the tournament.

Rohit felt that correct reading of conditions would be crucial to his team's fortunes in the upcoming tournament.

The thirteenth edition of the T-20 league will be played in the United Arab Emirates from September 19 to November 10. All eight teams have settled into their respective hubs following COVID testing and started practising ahead of the opening match. Defending champions Mumbai will play its first match against previous year's runners up Chennai on September 19.

Posted By: Lakshay Raja