Five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians spent big on the likes of Ishan Kishan, Tim David and Jofra Archer, but does Rohit Sharma have a team good enough to claim their sixth IPL trophy?
There was a time when the Mumbai Indians had a playing XI full of match-winners. On any given day, one of Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, the Pandya Brothers, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah or someone else would take them to victory.
In every sense, the Indians were the perfect team for the T20 format. Everyone would put in a shift and, more often than not, someone would step up when the team needed them to. The MI had a top four to kill and a middle-order that could butcher any bowling attack on any given day. They also had all-rounders who lent balance and flexibility to the team regardless of the conditions. To cap it off, they also kept adding valuable pieces to the equation, making themselves one of the greatest T20 sides ever assembled.
However, post the IPL 2022 Auction, there are some apparent holes in the MI team that the opposition teams will look to exploit. The difference in quality of the current Mumbai Indians squad to the rest of the teams isn’t as clear as it used to be. There is clearly some rebuilding to be done, and this squad is a long way off from being the finished article.
The MI spent big on Jofra Archer, despite knowing he might not be available for the upcoming season. Tim David, too, has no proven record in Indian conditions to suggest he would hit the ground running, and could potentially end up being the one deal that comes back to bite them. The Indians would also be dearly hoping that Ishan Kishan rises up to the challenge after his mammoth ₹15.25-crore purchase.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into it and take a look at the SWOT analysis of the Mumbai Indians for IPL 2022.
Total squad strength: 25
|Batters and Wicket-keepers||All-rounders||Bowlers|
|Anmolpreet Singh||Arjun Tendulkar||Basil Thampi|
|Dewald Brevis||Daniel Sams||Jasprit Bumrah|
|Rahul Buddhi||Fabian Allen||Jaydev Unadkat|
|Rohit Sharma (c)||Hrithik Shokeen||Riley Meredith|
|Suryakumar Yadav||Kieron Pollard||Tymal Mills|
|Aryan Juyal (wk)||Mohd. Arshad Khan||Mayank Markande|
|Ishan Kishan (wk)||Ramandeep Singh||Murugan Ashwin|
|Sanjay Yadav||Jofra Archer|
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Verma, Kieron Pollard, Tim David, Fabian Allen, Murugan Ashwin, Jaydev Unadkat, Jasprit Bumrah, Tymal Mills.
The MI’s biggest strength lies in having a core group and a management team with a proven track record and an abundance of quality. They are the most successful side in the competition’s history, and whatever they’ve done to get here is laid bare for all to see. The backroom staff led by Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene understands the format well and, as a result, his teams stand apart—more often than not—from the rest of the competition.
Mumbai’s rebuild for the 2022 season and onwards began by retaining four players: Rohit Sharma (₹16 crore), Jasprit Bumrah (₹12 crore), Suryakumar Yadav (₹8 crore) and Kieron Pollard (₹6 crore), leaving them with a purse of ₹48 crore to build a squad around them. However, as they started missing out on one potential target after another, it looked as if the Mumbai Indians management group were feeling the heat.
The MI have a world-class top three in Rohit, Ishan and Surya, while the #4 slot still remains up for grabs. The current Indian limited-overs skipper and Mumbai Indians captain, Rohit Sharma, is in scintillating form, and will have to be at his very best to propel his franchise to yet another Playoff berth. Both Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav, on the other hand, will have a lot on their plate, since they aren’t potential youth prospects anymore; they are now part of the senior leadership group and will be expected to deliver at least 75% of the time.
Kieron Pollard, the old horse, will have the mantle of anchoring the Mumbai Indians batting during the middle and death overs, with unproven punts playing both ahead and behind him. Meanwhile, despite the absence of Jofra Archer for this upcoming season, the pairing of Jasprit Bumrah and Tymal Mills should be able to hold their own.
Thus, there is experience and ability at key positions in the Indians setup to win matches.
Well, the Mumbai Indians middle-order has had a complete revamp, and the current crop of players vying for those positions raises more questions than answers. Mahela and Co. missed out on four key players: they lost the fight to keep Quinton de Kock, meaning Ishan Kishan will have to move up to open the batting with Rohit, leaving a vacant #4 spot.
They’ll dearly miss the three-dimensional impact from the Pandya Brothers. To replace Krunal, Mumbai have found a similar all-rounder in Sanjay Yadav, though he has no proven pedigree, while the West Indian Fabian Allen is also a fair shout, though that would mean they’ll have to sacrifice one overseas starter spot.
Now, for the other Pandya, Hardik, the Indians have looked at Tim David and Dewald Brevis as potential replacements. David is an unknown with no proven track record on Subcontinent pitches, and whether he can hit the ground running after Mumbai forked out a massive ₹8.25 crore for him remains to be seen. Meanwhile, West Indies U19 star Dewald Brevis could prove to be a decent shout for that #4 role, but while Brevis is an exciting talent, are the Mumbai Indians confident enough to play him in that all-important role?
Interestingly, after the Indians lost out on re-signing their Kiwi swing king Trent Boult, they took their punt on Jaydev Unadkat. The veteran Indian left-arm seamer is a decent pick and, at best, a good rotation option. However, without Jofra Archer, and only Tymal Mills and Riley Meredith to provide support to Jasprit Bumrah, it feels as if the MI have left themselves short of quality in the quick-bowling department.
And now, the final piece in the puzzle that won’t fit is the spin department. Mumbai lost both Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar, but they bought in the likes of Mayank Markande and Murugan Ashwin as the premium spin-bowling options. However, both bowlers have struggled to match the expectations set in previous seasons. Thus, it won’t surprise me if Mumbai end up being one of those teams leaking runs at a premium during the middle overs.
The Mumbai Indians went all in for the 19-year-old Tilak Verma. The young Hyderabad middle-order batter certainly has the potential to make that all-important #4 position his own and, as has been evident in the past, players are usually backed to the end by the Mumbai management; Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Saurabh Tiwary are perfect examples of this. Thus, this association has all the makings of a breakthrough player announcing himself to the scene within the next two seasons.
Another uncapped Indian player who is a potential option and can probably become a mainstay in the Mumbai Indians playing XI and excel in that Krunal Pandya role is Sanjay Yadav. The 26-year-old can bat lower down the order and is a slow left-arm otrthodox spinner. He is decent with the bat with good power hitting capabilities and is accurate and economical with the ball. Rohit and Mahela will probably try to slowly bed him in. However, by the time the 2022 IPL season reaches the final leg of the league stage, I expect Yadav to make that #7 position his own.
And lastly, this Mumbai Indians squad is one which is fairly young and, as I factor in the bench strength and certain punts that they’ll have to take, there is quite the possibility of seeing some uncharacteristic rotation policies which weren’t there in the past. Mumbai don’t know their best team yet, and there are actual holes for which they’ll have to tinker with the playing XI quite a bit.
After a very long time, the Mumbai Indians will be trading in uncharted waters, with just 7 out of their 25 players having played together before. And, for all the holes and weaknesses apparent from the outside, this current squad doesn’t have all the answers within itself.
Rohit is known for his chronic niggles and muscular injuries, and with him representing India across all three formats and given all the workload he has been under over the last 12 months, his fitness will remain a matter of worry throughout the season.
Then, there’s Ishan Kishan and his inconsistency. We’ve seen in previous seasons how a massive paycheck can put players under immense pressure; Yuvraj Singh and Glenn Maxwell in years gone by are prime examples of this.
As I alluded to in the Weakness section, the Indians middle-order is a big, big issue. They just haven’t bought enough ammunition to replace the likes of Quinton de Kock, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Trent Boult. They need at least another mini-auction to get the balance of this squad right. Their bench does have potential, but there are a lot of ifs. Besides, a middle order of Verma/Brevis, Pollard, David, Allen/Yadav doesn’t provide the same balance and flexibility like their previous combinations. There isn’t a big-enough margin for error for this Mumbai Indians squad, and one or two injuries to key personnel can derail their whole campaign.
Thus, as things stand, this Mumbai Indians squad just isn’t there at the moment, but it does have young and hungry players who, with a few good additions during the next mini-auction, can make them jump to where they used to belong.