Mumbai Indians are the defending champions of Champion's League © AFP
Mumbai Indians is the defending champions of Champion’s League © AFP

Mumbai Indians have been weakened by the injury to Rohit Sharma ahead of the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014. It not only robs them off a captain, but also some balance in the side as their strength is now more concentrated in the foreign recruits. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the ideal combination for Mumbai.

The Mumbai Indians aren’t at their formidable best! Though they qualified into the top four in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 and made their way into the Champions League (CLT20), they do not have their usual strength at their disposal. Compare the side that lifted the last edition and the one that gets ready for the title defence. There are a few familiar faces and some new recruits, but this side needs a miracle if they are to go all the way. Losing Rohit Sharma too doesn’t help matters.

This side seems to have its strength packed in the foreign recruits. They have Kieron Pollard, Michael Hussey, Corey Anderson, Marchant de Lange, Lasith Malinga and Lendl Simmons. Compare that to the Indians in the side: Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Jasprit Bumrah, Praveen Kumar, Jalaj Saxena, Shreyas Gopal, Pragyan Ojha, Sushant Marathe and Aditya Tare. Thus, Rohit’s injury not only robs them off a batsman but also weakens the balance of the side. Only four foreigners are allowed in the playing XI and to make a choice won’t be the easiest.

If one has to choose the four players, they would be Pollard, Simmons, Anderson and Malinga. Though Hussey did well later in the IPL 2014, Simmons has been in great form in recent times, going on to win the Player of the Tournament at the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). He should open the batting in place of Hussey as that allows them more options. They need to have the power of Anderson in the middle; he also gives them the extra bowling option. Malinga is a fixture without doubts!

Again, in the Indian side of things, Harbhajan walks in and so does Ojha. They have these two spinners to slow things down in the middle. Praveen should also get in as Mumbai need the pace-bowler to support Malinga. With Rohit out, a lot of the pressure is on Rayudu, who had a good tour to England. He has to bring than form into this tournament and one sees him take a bigger role at the top of the order. Aditya Tare has to be more consistent with the bat and he may open the batting with Simmons.

Picking the next two players would be a bit tricky. They need a batsman and a bowler to fill the void. Marathe can perhaps be given a chance as he has a decent domestic record in T20 cricket. The bowling slot may be filled by Bumrah, with the extra pace he provides. Mumbai do have to settle on an ideal combination, but getting there won’t be very easy.

If Mumbai are to defend this title, they would need a huge effort from all their players. And if they do, this victory should rank above their 2011 triumph. Back then, they lost Sachin Tendulkar, Munaf Patel and Rohit to injury. Yet, Harbhajan led a young side to the title. Pollard has a similar task on his hands.

Complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)