Dubai: Defending Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Mumbai Indians trained at the International Cricket Academy on Thursday night without Lasith Malinga, who lifted the Twenty20 World Cup for Sri Lanka in Bangladesh last Sunday.
As soon as the players came out of the luxury coach, they did a few stretching exercises and then used baseball gloves for catching practice.
Former New Zealand captain and India cricket team coach John Wright, who is the head coach of the Mumbai Indians, was busy helping the team with some fielding tips. The full contingent of players is yet to arrive here.
The two star attractions of the evening were India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and pace bowler Zaheer Khan.
Former Australia batsman Michael Hussey was among the first to pad up and bat at the ICC Academy net.
The ICC Academy authorities have opened up all the pitches, including the Australian, English and subcontinental wickets for the team.
Zaheer Khan, after experiencing the facilities at the ICC Academy, said: “These are excellent facilities for cricket and it will be really good to train here.”
He was eager to see the Dubai cricket stadium, where he is yet to play a match.
Maqbul Dudhia, the General Manager Sports Business of the Dubai Sports City, had an informal chat with Khan as well as with Harbhajan Singh. In fact, both of them even posed for photos with a few fans who had come to see the team training.
India’s former captain and legendary spinner Anil Kumble, who is the chief mentor of the team, along with the Master Blaster and team icon, Sachin Tendulkar, will be arriving soon.
Harbhajan Singh was seen bowling for a long time along with Khan.
With right handed Malinga and left-handed Khan, Mumbai Indians have arguably the most dangerous bowling combination among the IPL teams.
Incidentally, Malinga said after winning the World Twenty20 Cup that he could restrict the Indian batsmen in the final due to his experience of playing in the IPL.
Mumbai Indians have retained five players from last season: Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu, who played a key role in their double triumph in IPL as well as Champions League last year.
The happiest news from the camp was of their star all-rounder Kieron Pollard’s return to form after being sidelined for six months by a knee injury. Pollard hit a match-winning century for Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean first-class competition.
It was also revealed on Thursday that the logo of Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, will now be prominently displayed on the Mumbai Indians’ team shirts and merchandise.
Etihad Airways and equity partner Jet Airways have signed a sponsorship deal with the team.
Furthermore, BlackBerry Limited, a world leader in mobile communications, has announced an exclusive partnership with Mumbai Indians. As a part of the association, an exclusive BBM Channel called ‘Mumbai Indians’ will help engage and connect with their millions fans and followers across the globe. The team left for Abu Dhabi on Friday to continue their training before the first match of the tournaments against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium on April 16.