They’re the defending champions, they’re the most successful team in the history of the tournament, and they’re looking good this time around as well. Barring the fact that it is an even year, Mumbai Indians have a lot going for them heading into the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League.
Since 2013, MI have benefited greatly from Rohit Sharma’s captaincy acumen and his personal growth as a player at the international stage. The Mumbaikar’s rise in stature as a white-ball cricketer coincided with the franchise’s growing success and they’ve established themselves as IPL heavyweights after struggling to find their feet in the first couple of seasons.
MI's record over the years in IPL
|Season||League stage finish||Playoff result|
|IPL 2010||1st||Lost final|
|IPL 2011||2nd out of 10||Won Eliminator, Lost Qualifier 2|
|IPL 2012||3rd out of 9||Lost Eliminator|
|IPL 2013||2nd out of 9||Champions|
|IPL 2014||4th||Lost Eliminator|
Heading into IPL 2020 in the United Arab Emirates, Mumbai Indians have a strong squad once again. They topped the table in the group stage last year before going on to bag the title, and this year’s squad also looks capable of competing consistently.
The biggest setback for them has been Lasith Malinga’s withdrawal from the tournament. The legendary Sri Lankan fast bowler, who has been a vital cog in MI’s success over the years, opted out of IPL 2020 due to personal reasons. With the pitches in the UAE expected to be spinner-friendly, MI would’ve had an edge if Malinga – a pacer who can succeed despite the nature of the pitch – was available.
At the auctions late last year, the four-time champions made two significant purchases – Australia’s Chris Lynn and Nathan Coulter-Nile. While Lynn was brought in at his base price of Rs 2 crore to bolster the top order, MI went all-out for pacer Coulter-Nile and ended up spending a whopping Rs 8 crore for him. Now, with Malinga out, the pressure on Coulter-Nile to step up and be counted has only increased.
MI's squad for IPL 2020
|Rohit Sharma||Dhawal Kulkarni||Hardik Pandya||Ishan Kishan|
|Sherfane Rutherford||Jasprit Bumrah||Jayant Yadav||Quinton de Kock|
|Suryakumar Yadav||James Pattinson||Kieron Pollard||Aditya Tare|
|Anmolpreet Singh||Mitchell McClenaghan||Krunal Pandya|
|Chris Lynn||Rahul Chahar||Anukul Roy|
|Saurabh Tiwary||Trent Boult||Digvijay Deshmukh|
|Nathan Coulter-Nile||Prince Balwant Rai Singh|
|Mohsin Khan|| |
Players in action post lockdown
Three players from the Mumbai Indians squad – Lynn, Sherfane Rutherford and Kieron Pollard – have played professional cricket since the lockdown began.
All three competed in the recently-concluded Caribbean Premier League but only one of them found success. While Lynn played nine games for St Kitts & Nevis Patriots and could manage a total of just 138 runs, Rutherford got a paltry 39 runs in seven games for Guyana Amazon Warriors.
Fortunately for MI, though, their star all-rounder Pollard found plenty of success in CPL 2020. Not only did the 33-year-old lead Trinbago Knight Riders on an astonishing unbeaten run to the title, he also made crucial contributions. His only half century (72) came in a match when the pitch troubled everyone else. And his 207 runs overall came at a sensational strike rate of 205. In the final, with Dwayne Bravo unable to bowl, Pollard stepped up and registered figures of 4/30.
An in-form, confident Pollard is a massive positive for Mumbai Indians as he can use his experience and power to be devastating in the second half of an innings.
Mumbai Indians’ biggest strength, as has been the case for several years now, is the balance they have in their squad. There isn’t any gaping hole.
In Rohit, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah, they have three of the best white-ball players in Indian cricket, who lend strength to three different aspects of their playing XI.
Secondly, they have quality Indian talent at their disposal. The likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Anmolpreet Singh and Rahul Chahar are proven performers and add depth to the squad.
Add to that, the presence of a number of all-rounders lends flexibility to Rohit. With the Pandya brothers and Pollard in the XI, Mumbai can shuffle their batting order according to each match situation and also have room to make adjustments to the side.
While the lack of a star batsman in the middle order continues to remain a concern for MI, the bigger worry for them could be the spin department. The pitches in the UAE are likely to be slow and dry for the most part, which will give all the teams the opportunity to attack with their spinners.
But as far as Mumbai Indians are concerned, there isn’t really a single world-class spinner in their ranks. Krunal Pandya and Chahar have plenty of potential, but it remains to be seen if they can run through sides consistently. Jayant Yadav, Anukul Roy and Prince Balwant Rai Singh are the other spin options but their lack of experience in the IPL doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Another drawback for MI could be the overdependence on Bumrah. With Malinga out of the equation, the Indian pace spearhead will lead the attack and will be the go-to bowler for Rohit. Mumbai Indians will hope for Trent Boult, James Pattinson, Mitchell McClenaghan and Coulter-Nile to come good as well.
Most Valuable Player
Rohit and Bumrah remain the two heavyweights and can never be discounted, but this could be a big season for Hardik. The last international game he played was a T20I against South Africa in September 2019 before getting sidelined due to injury.
With Shivam Dube making his debut as the fast-bowling all-rounder in India’s T20I side, Hardik will be motivated to prove his worth once again and return to the international arena.
In the DY Patil T20 tournament earlier this year, Hardik showed his incredible hitting power by putting in a number of impressive performances. The best of the lot was a sensational 55-ball 158 in which he hit a a staggering 20 sixes and six fours. The tournament or the attack he faced may not have been significant but he showed that his ball-striking ability is extraordinary.
Mumbai Indians don’t have the strongest middle order and Hardik’s form will be crucial for them. Even in terms of bowling, the 26-year-old can provide breakthroughs and is a quality option to have.
Potential breakout star
In a side that is full of experienced players, it could be 21-year-old Chahar who turns out to be a breakout star. The leg-spinner had a decent IPL 2019 for MI, picking 13 wickets in as many games with an economy-rate of 6.55.
Chahar has played one game for the senior Indian team – a T20I against West Indies in August 2019 – and is a regular pick for Rajasthan in first-class cricket.
Armed with a deceptive googly and subtle changes in pace, he could prove to be a handful on the UAE pitches. With Krunal playing more of a holding role, Rohit may look to attack with Chahar in the middle overs.
MI fixtures for IPL 2020
|MI vs CSK||19 Sep, Sat (1930)||Abu Dhabi|
|KKR vs MI||23 Sep, Wed (1930)||Abu Dhabi|
|RCB vs MI||28 Sep, Mon (1930)||Dubai|
|KXIP vs MI||1 Oct, Thu (1930)||Abu Dhabi|
|MI vs SRH||4 Oct, Sun (1530)||Sharjah|
|MI vs RR||6 Oct, Tue (1930)||Abu Dhabi|
|MI vs DC||11 Oct, Sun (1930)||Abu Dhabi|
|MI vs KKR||16 Oct, Fri (1930)||Abu Dhabi|
|MI vs KXIP||18 Oct, Sun (1930)||Dubai|
|CSK vs MI||23 Oct, Fri (1930)||Sharjah|
|RR vs MI||25 Oct, Sun (1930)||Abu Dhabi|
|MI vs RCB||28 Oct, Wed (1930)||Abu Dhabi|
|DC vs MI||31 Oct, Sat (1530)||Dubai|
|SRH vs MI||3 Nov, Tue (1930)||Sharjah|