No team has dominated the Indian Premier League like the Mumbai Indians. They are hands down the most formidable outfit in the league. And this year, once again, the reigning champions, who completely outplayed Delhi Capitals in the final last year to win an unprecedented fifth title, will start as firm favourites.
Over the years, the Mumbai Indians have developed a strong core unit comprising quality players. After retaining most of their players this year, the franchise picked up seven cricketers — Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Milne, Piyush Chawla, James Neesham, Yudhvir Charak, Marco Jansen and Arjun Tendulkar — at the auction.
The Defending champions will begin their campaign when they take on Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the tournament opener to be played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on April 9.
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Here’s a look at a thorough and comprehensive SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis of MI ahead of the new season.
Strength: A batting unit peppered with big-hitters is Mumbai Indians’ biggest strength. Starting from skipper Rohit Sharma, nicknamed the ‘Hitman’, to his opening partner South African wicketkeeper batsman Quinton de Kock, to the young Ishan Kishan, the Mumbai based outfit has a solid top order. In Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal — the franchise has a quality middle order which can pick apart any opposition.
Such is the strength of their batting department that one of the most explosive openers of the shortest format Australia’s Chris Lynn, who will easily get a spot in the playing XI of any other franchise, struggled to pave his way into the starting squad of the Mumbai Indians last season.
The best thing about the Mumbai batting set up is that it is not over reliant on any one player or on their overseas contingent. Last season, we saw the side go hammer and tongs at the opposition in the absence of skipper and big-hitter Rohit Sharma.
The five-time champions also boast of a potent fast bowling attack with the likes of Indian pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, New Zealand’s Trent Boult and Adam Milne along with Australian Nathan Coulter Nile.
Weakness: Mumbai Indians’ biggest weakness is the lack of quality spinners. They have Krunal Pandya, who was hammered by the English batsmen in the just concluded ODI series, young leg-spinner Rahul Chahar and offie Jayant Yadav, who played only two games last season. The franchise has bought Piyush Chawla in the auction to bring in some much-needed experience in the spin attack. However, the leg spinner’s stock in the IPL has been falling steadily. He had a less than impressive campaign with CSK last season.
With Mumbai Indians playing most of its league matches on the spin-friendly tracks of the Chepauk and Feroz Shah Kotla, the performance of the spinners will be vital for the success of the side.
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Opportunity: Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishen were rewarded for their brilliant performances in the IPL with T20I caps in the recently concluded series against England. The duo would want to continue churning out stellar knocks to strengthen their chances of selection for the two upcoming T20 World Cups.
Threats: One of the biggest threats for the franchise is the lack of a proper Indian pace back up for Jasprit Bumrah. Should the 27-year-old suffer an injury the franchise would have to turn to an overseas recruit to spearhead the bowling, leading to an imbalance in batting as they can only play four foreigners.
Squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Adam Milne, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Arjun Tendulkar, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), James Neesham, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Marco Jansen, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Quinton De Kock (wicket-keeper), Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult, Yudhvir Singh. Mahela Jayawardene (Head Coach).