Having won the Indian Premier League (IPL) titles in 2013 and 2015, Mumbai Indians (MI) will kick off the ninth season of the tournament with an aim to add a third silverware to their trophy cabinet and become the first IPL team to do so.
The defending champions have a settled unit this season too, as they retained the core of their squad – Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel, Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, Corey Anderson, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Unmukt Chand and Marchant de Lange – ahead of the IPL Players’ Auction earlier this year.
With support staff comprising of Indian bating maestro Sachin Tendulkar as mentor, Ricky Ponting as head coach, Shane Bond as bowling coach and Jonty Rhodes as fielding coach, MI will once again be the team to watch out for this season.
Mumbai Indians have maintained a pool of match-winning players over the years, which remains their strength. In particular, they have three brilliant seam-up allrounders – Pollard, Anderson and Pandya – who have the skills that can change the course of a game. Anderson and Pandya did well in the recently-concluded ICC World Twenty20, while Pollard will return to cricket from an injury layoff.
Mumbai will definitely want to start well this season, which is something they haven’t been able to do consistently. It can be termed as their weakness that they take time to get going in the league, which can hurt as it’s not easy to come back every time in such a highly competitive field.
Corey Anderson: When he is set, the New Zealand allrounder can send any bowling attack on a leather hunt and then can also run in to get crucial wickets for his skipper. Anderson came into the limelight when he broke Pakistan allrounder Shahid Afridi’s 17-year record of fastest ODI hundred. The attacking batting allrounder, who was bought by MI for a whopping Rs 4.5 crore at the 2014 IPL players auction, will be a threat this season as well. He has scored 379 runs in 16 IPL matches and has 5 wickets in his kitty.
Jasprit Bumrah: After a successful outing at the ICC World Twenty20, Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who made his IPL debut in 2013 with MI, will represent the Mumbai franchise for the fourth consecutive year. He will be accompanied by Lasith Malinga, who helped the youngster learn the art of bowling yorkers. In 17 IPL matches, Bumrah has taken 11 wickets with a best of 3 for 32.
Jos Buttler: Buttler and Parthiv are the two wicketkeepers in the MI squad for the season. After his recent exploits with the bat for England, Buttler earned the reputation of a dangerous hitter and will press hard for one of the four spots for the foreigners in the eleven. He could be Mumbai’s new weapon in the new season as he makes his IPL debut. Buttler has played 48 T20Is and scored 839 runs at a strike rate of 140.30.
MI missed the semi-final berth by just one point as they finished fifth in the inaugural season. Their 2009 season wasn’t impressive as they won only five of their 14 matches, finishing seventh on the points table. In 2010, MI, with their spectacular wins, reached the final but lost the summit clash to Chennai Super Kings. The fourth edition saw MI’s campaign end in the second qualifier, where they suffered a 43-run defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore. In the year 2012, MI won 10 of their 16 league games and managed to qualify for the Eliminator, only to be knocked out by Chennai. In IPL 2013, MI tasted their maiden IPL triumph beating Chennai in the final by 23 runs. Season 7 saw Mumbai finishing on the fourth position. Last year, MI turned the tables again and won their second IPL title with a 41-run win against Chennai.
MI look a balanced side on paper but much will depend on how they start the tournament and then take that momentum towards the business end for a title push in the playoffs.
SQUAD: Rohit Sharma (c), Harbhajan Singh, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Lasith Malinga, Lendl Simmons, Mitchell McClenaghan, Marchant de Lange, Tim Southee, Unmukt Chand, Vinay Kumar, Parthiv Patel, Shreyas Gopal, Nathu Singh, J Suchith, Ambati Rayudu, Akshay Wakhare, Deepak Punia, Jitesh Sharma, Kishore Kamath, Krunal Pandya, Nitish Rana, Siddhesh Lad