Mumbai Indians’ captain Rohit Sharma and new head coach Mark Boucher, addressing a pre-season press conference, backed the new impact player rule that will come into force in the upcoming IPL 2023 and spoke about plans for the coming campaign.

The regulation will allow a substitute to come in to bat and bowl, but he can only be an Indian unless there are fewer than four overseas players in a team.

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“It’s interesting to have new innovations coming into the game,” Rohit told reporters before the IPL season starts on Friday.

“Only time will tell what happens and how the team will cope with this new rule, but I like the idea of an impact player coming in and changing your team after the toss.”

He said five-time IPL winners Mumbai will “luckily” be able to see how other teams use the new rule since four other matches will be played before their opening game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday.

Other innovations include captains being allowed to announce their XI after the toss – which decides which team bats first – and then nominate an impact player from among the five substitutes listed with the playing XI.

Mark Boucher, who will coaching the team for the first time, echoed the sentiment, saying that the idea of changing the team after the toss, saying it will be “quite influential”.

“Especially in India the dew plays a big part if you are playing in night time,” the South African said.

Other new rules include teams being able to review umpires’ decisions on no-balls and wides using the computerised Decision Review System.

Boucher further menioned that the squad will play a couple of practice matches now that all the players are with the team. He also said that the team had prepared extensively for the season ahead.

“Tonight, we will be playing another game, so it will give us a good idea of where we are as a squad and what we can achieve. Other than that, all our preparation has been going according to plan,” he said.

When asked about the team’s goal for the season, coach Boucher had an emphatic answer, “Win the trophy.”

Boucher said that his integration into the MI set up has been seamless. “It has been very good so far. It is completely different to coaching in international cricket. I get to spend more time at home, which is nice. The sort of professionalism that Mumbai Indians show and the attention to detail has been exemplary.”

He added: “The support staff has been fantastic as well. I’m well aware that I need to deliver the results and hopefully we can get them. I set myself high standards and it’ll be the same for the players as well. I’m not here to get the third place or fourth place, I’m here to win. I have been given everything that I want, so from that perspective, it has been great.”

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The season will mark the ten-year anniversary of Rohit Sharma taking charge of Mumbai Indians as the skipper in the Indian Premier League. With five titles, he’s the most successful captain in the tournament.

Ahead of the 16th season of the tournament, Rohit spoke about his long association with the franchise and said that he had loved every single moment of the journey.

“10 years is a long time. Obviously you are bound to create a lot of memories in 10 years in that period. I have certainly enjoyed each and every moment of it. If you ask me to single out a memory, I won’t be able to do that because it is tough,” Rohit, who took over mid-campaign in 2013, said.

Having first joined MI as a youngster in the 2011 season, Rohit has captained the team to each of their five titles. He took over the captaincy reins in the 2013 tournament and led the team to the title in his first year in charge.

“We have played some really good cricket over the years. My experience with this team has been phenomenal. This team has given me a great opportunity to come out and express myself, first as a player and then as a leader. I have certainly grown as an individual and as a leader being a part of this team. MI has given me a great opportunity to showcase myself in a different avatar,” he said speaking about his long and successful relationship with the franchise.

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Mumbai Indians will begin their IPL campaign against Royal Challengers Bangalore on 2nd April.


With inputs from AFP