Iqbal Abdulla remains a curious case in Mumbai’s scheme of things. Despite his match-winning and at times match-saving performances, the 24-year-old’s role in the XI still seems to be ambiguous.
He was first dropped from the team despite claiming four wickets in the match against Punjab in the league. It was thanks largely to his efforts that Mumbai managed to beat Gujarat and enter the knock-out stage last week. But curiously, in the ongoing quarter-final clash against Maharashtra, Abdulla was not introduced into the attack on Day Two.
Iqbal Abdulla bowls against Maharashtra yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK.
The left-arm spinner was only given the ball yesterday when Maharashtra were already seven wickets down. He bowled five maidens and gave away only six runs in his nine overs without taking a wicket. Incidentally, that was his only spell. It was astonishing to see Abdulla being introduced so late into the attack considering the fact that he was the wrecker-in-chief with 11-wickets against Gujarat.
The other left-arm spinner in the team, Vishal Dabholkar bowled 17 overs, conceded 58 runs and took one wicket. As far as Abdulla’s batting is concerned, he batted at No 7, despite some impressive performances. His 30 and 38 in both innings against Gujarat proved vital in Mumbai’s 27-run win. He also played a key role in helping Mumbai reach 402 in the first innings against Maharashtra with 49 not out.
Even as Mumbai’s batsmen caved in meekly in their second innings, Abdulla showed some resistance during his 31-ball 27. Coach Sulakshan Kulkarni justified Abdulla’s late introduction into the attack. “You cannot compare every match. The wicket and the conditions are totally different from the last match. That (Valsad) was a turning wicket which assisted left-arm spinners. But here (at the Wankhede Stadium), the wicket is more helpful to seamers,” Kulkarni told MiD DAY.
When asked about his promotion in his batting order, Kulkarni said: “That is not possible. You cannot have a specialist batsman coming in at his position.” It remains to be seen how Mumbai use Abdulla in the second outing especially when they are desperate for wickets.