AFP
AFP

Ten seasons of Indian Premier League have turned out to be huge money-spinners for broadcasters, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and given Indian cricket some promising youngsters who are now leaders of few franchises in IPL 2018. Moreover, it has added fan base by attracting varied audience to the sport. IPL s glamour and glitz is second to none. It is the biggest cricketing league and is evident by the close encounters witnessed every season.

Amidst all this, Mumbai Indians (led by Sachin Tendulkar, Shaun Pollock and Harbhajan Singh in the inaugural edition) has been the most dominant force. Starting waywardly, Mumbai took time to find its feet but once they dug it firm in the soil, they didn t look back, especially since 2013. As a result, Mumbai have won the title thrice most successful franchise till date in the last five years. All the three championships came under Rohit Sharma‘s captaincy. Co-incidentally, Rohit and Mumbai’s graph have taken the upward spiral simultaneously. Hence, the team management retained Rohit and his core players ahead of IPL 2018 auction at Bengaluru.

(Trivia: Rohit is the only cricketer to have won four IPL titles. His first win came for Deccan Chargers in 2009)

Mumbai’s nucleus

Rohit formed a group of core players around him in recent past. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya brothers have flourished courtesy the faith entrusted upon them by the team management and skipper. In addition, Kieron Pollard has been their finisher though slightly inconsistent and a seasoned campaigner. HarshaBhogle rightly stated, They (Mumbai Indians) believe Pollard cannot be seen in any shirt other than blue.

Pace battery

The above mentioned cricketers have been chosen by their past successes, and rest of the squad will play around them. For someone like LasithMalinga, who has passed his prime, Mumbai have got the services of Bangladesh’s MustafizurRahman. (He could also help Rohit in eradicating his follies against left-arm seamers). In addition, Pat Cummins has been in good form. He will make a good trio along with Bumrah and Fizz. Not to forget, Mumbai can also fall back upon Kiwi and Mumbai veteran in Mitchell McClenaghan or Delhi pacer PradeepSangwan.

Drawback: The only drawback for Mumbai could be their over dependence on Bumrah. One must realise that Bumrah is a wise bowler, but still just over two years old in international cricket. A breakdown, or fall in form could be possible. Apart from him, there seems to be no other bowler who can lead their pace department irrespective of conditions.

Note: Malinga may not turn up on the field, but he will have a role to play in the nets.

No wrist spinner?

Rohit is a good captain in terms of rotating his bowlers. Nonetheless, have Mumbai missed a trick by not including any wrist spinner in the squad? It has become a norm to play one or two wrist tweakers nowadays.

Mumbai, however, have Sri Lanka’s AkilaDananjaya and Krunal who will lead this department. But who apart from the duo? One of them is bound to go for runs in few matches. In this case, Mumbai do not have any ‘trusted source’ under their roof. Their third and fourth spin options are Rahul Chahar and Siddesh Lad respectively.

Note: Lad can be their underrated performer coming on the back of highly successfulRanji Trophy 2017-18 and Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament.

Overall, their spin department is decent but not something for the opposition camp to keep a special tab on.

The stroke-makers

Rohit will spearhead this department with his composure, large chunk of shots and sweet timing. He will be aided by West Indies star opener, Evin Lewis. Mumbai have always been short of openers, and if the West Indian can fire on all cylinders, he would be a huge boost to the side. Lots depend on where the team management play Hardik and Krunal. Both have matured and shown great temperament with vital cameos and added impetus. If the senior Pandya flops, or remains inconsistent, JP Duminy will fill in. Duminy is a big name in T20 cricket, but may not get the nod at the beginning due to Krunal’s price tag and economical overs.

I reckon, Pollard will be sandwiched between them, and push the batting till the lower order. In case Pollard falters, they have a certain Ben Cutting as backup.

The youngsters in form of IshanKishan and TajinderDhillon are promising but will have to be given a longer run to extract the best out of them. Kishan can handle the openers’ slot, or take the No. 3 spot. Dhillon is an aggressive batsman, and can provide them bonus runs in the death overs. Lastly, SuryakumarYadav can also flex his muscles down the order.

Trump card or Threat?

RitikeSajdeh (Rohit’s wife). Rohit, or his side, hardly fails when she is in attendance. Expect Rohit to use her wisely for crunch encounters. (Humour).

Last word

Mumbai’s strength lies in their core players, and batting order. Apart from Bumrah, their bowling has some chinks in the armour. Nonetheless, the presence of an ensemble support staff, core players and the knack of turning the heat in the business end of the tournament holds the defending champions in good stead.

Mumbai need to work on their spin department, manage their lower order wisely and they would be good to go. This Rohit-led side start as one of the favourites despite the misses in the line-up.

Mumbai Indians – Timeline

Year IPL position Captain
2008 6th Sachin Tendulkar/Harbhajan Singh
2009 7th Sachin Tendulkar
2010 Runners-up Sachin Tendulkar
2011 3rd Sachin Tendulkar
2012 4th Sachin Tendulkar
2013 Winners Ricky Ponting/Rohit Sharma
2014 4th Rohit Sharma
2015 Winners Rohit Sharma
2016 5th Rohit Sharma
2017 Winners Rohit Sharma

Note: Mumbai have, more or less, finished in the last four since 2010 edition. In fact, they have surged past other teams and been the most consistent since 2013 championship.

Probable XI

Rohit Sharma (c), Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Suryakumar Yadav/Siddhesh Lad, Pat Cummins/AkilaDananjaya, Mustafizur Rahman, Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar

Squad

Mumbai Indians (MI): Rohit Sharma (c), IshanKishan (wk), Aditya Tare (wk), Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Saurabh Tiwary, JP Duminy, Siddhesh Lad, Sharad Lumba, Ben Cutting, Tajinder Singh, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Anukul Roy, Akila Dananjaya, Jasprit Bumrah, Mustafizur Rahman, Pat Cummins, Pradeep Sangwan, Jason Behrendorff, MD Nidheesh, Mohsin Khan