Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma feels pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and flamboyant all-rounder Hardik Pandya keep raising the bar for excellence with every game they play.
Mumbai edged past Royal Challengers Bangalore by six runs in their IPL clash on Thursday night and Sharma was lavish in his praise for Bumrah, who picked up three wickets, and Pandya, who scored 32 runs off 14 deliveries.
"I think Bumrah is more than mature now. Yes, his performance keeps growing every day. He is a very dedicated individual and takes his game very seriously. He is quite regular with his work ethics," he told reporters in the post-match press conference.
Bumrah's three wickets came off 20 runs which proved crucial in restricting RCB six short of the 187 runs put up by Mumbai Indians.
Sharma said Bumrah earned a crucial breakthrough by sending back RCB captain Virat Kohli, who was going great guns along with AB De Villiers at one point of the match.
"Bumrah is very smart. We know the class of Virat and AB (De Villiers) and hence we wanted to break the partnership when they were going strong. It (De Villiers) was a crucial wicket at that point of time of the game," he said.
On Hardik Pandya's unbeaten knock towards the end of Mumbai innings, Sharma said those runs made the difference and such an innings was needed from him as he didn't do well in the last game against Delhi Capitals.
"...Obviously, there was a hunger out there to go and do well. He came out and got those crucial runs in the end. He also bowled well in the middle even though he went for a few runs. It was a much-improved performance from the last game. He is also stepping up that ladder," he said.
Sharma also said that Pandya's form is very important for the team.
"He (Pandya) was out for a bit and didn't play a lot of games. So, he needs time to get into the groove. He is a crucial member of the team and very flexible. His form is very important to us, which will do good for us," he said.
Asked about Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga, Sharma said his role is to cramp batsmen by bowling bouncers and yorkers, besides taking wickets in the middle.
"He (Malinga) is the captain of Sri Lankan national team. So, obviously, he wants to play the World Cup and wants to do well. He is also coming from South Africa carrying a great form. He wants to keep that form going into the world cup."
"I am sure whenever he plays here for us, he wants to do well. He knows, we expect him to come up here and deliver the goods and take wickets, bowl fast, bowl bouncers and yorkers," he added.