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News

Who is Naman Dhir, Mumbai's new No. 3?

He had played just four T20 innings before this and is the latest unknown entity from MI's scouting stable

Naman Dhir scored a quick 20 off 10 balls in his debut IPL game  •  BCCI

Naman Dhir scored a quick 20 off 10 balls in his debut IPL game  •  BCCI

Mumbai Indians have played some of the most iconic T20 batters at No. 3 over the years, from Suryakumar Yadav to Rohit Sharma to Cameron Green. On Sunday night against Gujarat Titans, out walked Naman Dhir at No. 3 when Ishan Kishan fell in the first over of the chase of 169.
It was just the sixth T20 game of Dhir's professional career and he is yet to play a 50-over game in domestic cricket. What was he doing in the IPL then for the five-time champions?
Bought for INR 20 lakh at the last auction, Dhir is the latest unknown entity from MI's scouting stable. He is 24, a hard-hitting batter from Punjab. Known for hitting big sixes down the ground, his four T20 innings before this had earned him just 39 runs since his T20 debut a few months ago in November, with a high score of 17. For Punjab too, he has mostly batted at No. 3 in his fledgling career so far. In the Ranji Trophy, he has two centuries from 20 innings - both from last season - from 14 games for an average of 30.21.
It was in the Sher-e-Punjab T20 Cup - a state T20 league organised by the Punjab Cricket Association - in August last year that he made himself noticed with his hitting exploits. In 12 innings in that tournament, Dhir smashed 466 runs (second-highest) at a strike rate of 192.56 while averaging 42.36. He scored two centuries along the way - 127 off 56 and 105 off 44 - which included a total of 30 sixes.
On Sunday, he smoked three back-to-back fours against Afghanistan's Azmatullah Omarzai and a six in the same over. Dhir lofted the first ball of the third over over mid-off, the second over midwicket and the third (after a wide) for a one-bounce four to the square-leg boundary. A dot ball later, Dhir clobbered a half-volley over long-off for an 86-meter six. Omarzai, however, fought back on the last ball of the over by trapping Dhir lbw with the help of a review.
"He came out and he was very expressive. Again that lofted shot, you have got to be excited about these things," Kieron Pollard, Mumbai batting coach, said after the match. "I thought he had a lot more to offer, his calmness even when we lost that first wicket, to continue that intent is a good start for him. This is only the start, at the end of it he scored 20 odd, let's give him that space, let him enjoy the moment, it's a big occasion for these guys. As a franchise we'll continue to unearth new talent. In the future we can continue with continuity as we go along.
"Kudos to the scouts, all the guys who work behind the scenes to unearth these sorts of talent within in India. He was one on our radar. He has been in the Mumbai setup over the last couple of months, going to England on a developmental tour. So, it's something we would've seen in that guy."
Mumbai would have thought Dhir did his job with a 10-ball 20, but they eventually fell short by just six runs in the end.

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