The ex-Deccan Chargers trio of Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma and T Suman are fascinating picks. Symonds has still a lot to offer, despite playing no international cricket for Australia at the moment. What will excite many would be how his relations would be with Harbhajan © Getty Images
The ex-Deccan Chargers trio of Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma and T Suman are fascinating picks. Symonds has still a lot to offer, despite playing no international cricket for Australia at the moment. What will excite many would be how his relations would be with Harbhajan © Getty Images

 

By Dhruv Rupani

 

The Mumbai Indians team was the most expensive in the first three seasons. To be owned by one of the richest billionaires in the world and to be led by the highest run-accumulator in the world takes some beating. Mumbai are in to live up to expectations to win the IPL4, after finishing second in 2010. And the team to do it this time looks extremely exciting – at least on paper.

 

Sachin Tendulkar is any team’s favourite and Mumbai had to do the obvious by retaining him. With his 38th birthday coming very soon, there is no stopping him. He won the Orange Cap last season, for being the highest run-getter of the tournament. With a fantastic World Cup recently, Tendulkar’s form might just help Mumbai win games with the bat. Besides, his leadership skills in the T20 format have gone done well with his colleagues in the past. And I believe this globally-revered cricketer would inspire his team to victory.

 

Mumbai also retained Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard from their team of last season. Harbhajan has the experience, which will aid him in doing well for Mumbai like before, although his responsibility will increase to lead the attack, in the absence of Zaheer Khan – now with Royal Challengers Bangalore. ‘Slinga’ Malinga, too, is one of the best T20 bowlers in the world and Tendulkar will be, rest assured, allow Malinga to bowl four overs, more often than not. Of course, Pollard has been a hit in T20 cricket and is an envious buy for any team. He often proves to be the difference between both the sides and this time, it would be no different.

 

However, the ex-Deccan Chargers trio of Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma and T Suman are fascinating picks. Symonds has still a lot to offer, despite playing no international cricket for Australia at the moment. What will excite many would be how his relations would be with Harbhajan. The two were involved in an ugly, racial spat that almost split world cricket three years ago. And the other would be his partnership with Pollard. Any opposition would be threatened to bowl at Symonds and Pollard in the same match, and worse at the same time!

 

Rohit Sharma might not be in the best of form currently, but his IPL stint with the Deccan Chargers throughout the three seasons was glorious. He is a pure T20 batsman and forms the backbone of Mumbai’s middle-order this time. Mumbai’s fans will be thrilled to see Rohit play for his hometown – finally!

 

Suman, too, proved to be a handful for Deccan last season, and is a talented batsman who can be used anywhere in the batting order, giving the team flexibility.

 

The foreign contingent involves James Franklin, Moises Henriques, Clint McKay, Davy Jacobs and Aiden Blizzard. Franklin is a dicey pick and is more of a batting all-rounder, who could be warming the benches this season unless someone like Symonds gets injured.

 

Portugal-born Henriques played for Kolkata and Delhi before, and was not a big success for them. Henriques could replace Pollard, who might not be available due to the T20 and ODI series against Pakistan at home. But would he be a worthy replacement? We will have to wait and watch.

 

Clint McKay is a young, talented fast bowler from Australia and I believe he can form a devastating combination with Malinga to open the bowling as the Lankan relies on pace whereas the Aussie relies on seam movement. All this is subject to a place in the side, depending on the team strategy.

 

Davy Jacobs was a success in the Champions League last season, and Mumbai realized that more than any other franchise. It will be mouth-watering to see Tendulkar and Jacobs open the batting, giving Mumbai solidity at the top.

 

On the other hand, Aiden Blizzard is a handy middle-order batsman, but I do not perceive him to be a good pick because Mumbai have enough replacements. So Blizzard would be a waste to have, just carrying the drinks around.

 

Mumbai Indians were able to persuade Rajagopala Sathish, Ambati Rayudu, Aditya Tare, Ali Murtaza and Dhawal Kulkarni to play for them again. And they form the core of this team. All of them are talented enough to make it big and in the IPL, it is the Indian players that make a team win.

 

Munaf Patel adds zing to an already strong bowling attack. He could be the right replacement for Zaheer Khan.

 

Mumbai have the right balance. And alongside Chennai, Mumbai is the only team to retain the highest number of players from last season.

 

I would not be surprised if Mumbai finished third or fourth this time around.

 

Ala re, Mumbai!