Mumbai Indians have been one of the contenders ahead of every IPL tournament and have performed quite brilliantly over the years but it was only in 2013, in the 6th edition of the tournament that they finally managed to lift the trophy under the inspired leadership of Rohit Sharma.
Being one of the most consistent outfits in the IPL, they reached the qualifier last time but could not go beyond that, and it is expected that they would try to put that right. They were pretty active at the auctions that took place in February this year and have tried to address the areas that they thought needed strengthening.
Will that be enough to allow the team to push for a strong show in the IPL? Let’s have a closer look.
Rohit Sharma (c), Corey Anderson, Aiden Blizzard, Jasprit Bumrah, Unmukt Chand, Marchant de Lange, Aaron Finch, Shreyas Gopal, Harbhajan Singh, Josh Hazelwood, Siddhesh Lad, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Mallinga, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha, Hardik Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Kieron Pollard, Nitish Rana, Ambati Rayadu, Lendl Simmons, Jagadeesha Suchith, Pawan Suyal, Aditya Tare, Akshay Wakhare, Vinay Kumar.
Mumbai Indians retained the core of the team that were pivotal in taking them through to the qualifiers but the notable exception has been former Aussie great and IPL legend of sorts Mike Hussey. However, it must be said that his performances last season did not really merit a new contract and in that regard it was a bold decision from the team management to release him in favor of another Australian batsman – Aaron Finch.
Finch is the younger man and could be the player who would be able to get them off to the sort of flying starts that they missed last season. The strength however lies in the depth of the batting order with Indian star Rohit Sharma, West Indian Lendl Simmons, Ambati Rayadu, either of Corey Anderson and/or Pollard making them a formidable batting unit that not only bat deep but also have the capability of simply batting the opponent out of the game by posting scores in excess of 190.
Additionally, they also bought Parthiv Patel this year and he will almost certainly open the batting with Aaron Finch that provides even greater depth to the already strong batting line up. T20 is a game won by batsmen and MI have an abundance of them who can all be match winners on their day.
They have bought well in the bowling department this time as well with the addition of Mitchell McClenaghan giving them an alternative to Lasith Malinga who is not really the bowler he used to be a few seasons back and in Harbhajan Singh they have an old wily warhorse who will continue to come up with stellar performances with alarming frequency.
However, it is necessary to point out that in Corey Anderson and Keiron Pollard, they have two bowlers who would be perfect for the containing role in the middle overs. While Pollard has done the trick in the past, Corey Anderson might end up being the preferred option due to his good show in the World Cup.
Last but certainly not the least, the presence of Pragyan Ojha in the bowling attack would also provide MI with a deadly spin duo that will be able to take advantage of any spin that will surely be on offer on most pitches.
MI are a well-rounded outfit but if you start jotting down an eleven with only 4 overseas players in the squad then you would be a bit spoilt for choice and although it may be a good thing to have a problem of that sort in the team; it might take the think tank a few games to get the combination absolutely right. So, as one might imagine they would either struggle to get the combination or keep some high quality players in the dugout.
On the other hand, they might have bought Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar as fast bowling reinforcements but both bowlers are known to give away plenty of runs; which would end up creating another headache for Rohit Sharma. If Malinga fails to fire then MI would be in a whole lot of trouble against good batting sides. However, considering his past record MI would have to play him in the initial games in place of Mitchell McClenaghan who is a classy bowler and could do as much damage when in form; although admittedly he is not as good a death bowler.
Last but not he least it remains to be seen how they cope with the absence of Dinesh Karthik who scored a lot of runs for them at the top of the order. Will Parthiv Patel be able to do the trick?
Key Players: –
Rohit Sharma as ever remains the player around whom the MI batting would revolve as he is someone who can negotiate all sorts of bowlers and has the ability to clear the field with ease once he is set. However, MI is a side that does not depend on one player do the trick in the batting department and in this regard Aaron Finch will also be a huge player for them throughout the tournament. He has the game to take on any bowler and even though there is a question mark on his technique against quality spin; there is no doubt that he will be the one who would have to get MI off to fliers in the first 6 overs.
Although it has been mentioned more than once that Malinga might not the be the same bowler as he used to be; there is not denying the fact that he can be the backbone of the MI bowling attack if he can recreate his old form and hence he remains one of their key performers.
X Factor: –
Ambati Rayadu could be the player who might be given more responsibilities with the bat and might bat higher up the order, now that Dinesh Karthik is gone and we believe that he could be one of the difference makers in the MI campaign in IPL 8.
By: Soham Samaddar