After gaining momentum at the halfway stage last year, the Mumbai Indians (MI) team and their massive fan base dealt with a lacklustre blow, losing their penultimate game against the Delhi Daredevils (now known as Delhi Capitals) which in turn ended their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs. In the recent few Indian Premier League (IPL) seasons, the Mumbai Indians have made their fans and supporters pretty used to the feeling of starting slowly and then picking up the tempo at the right time. However, the Rohit Sharma-led team will be desperately hoping to retaliate this year with a consistent effort to romp home with their record fourth IPL title, which will also make them the first franchise in the history of IPL, to win the tournament a record four times. They will be starting their campaign in the evening encounter against the Delhi Capitals on March 24 in Mumbai.
With their core group pretty settled, Mumbai Indians had a relatively easier task on their shoulders at the auction. However, they still managed to grab the headlines, picking up the veteran duo comprising of Yuvraj Singh and Lasith Malinga. Even though the IPL veterans might find it tough to find a place in the starting XI, but they still are two of the biggest investments who can make a significant impact as the tournament progresses.
They also bought some back-up players like Barinder Sran, young Anmolpreet Singh and Rasikh Dar. However, Mumbai Indians picked one of their most valuable buys before even the start of the auction, when they procured Proteas wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock in a trading window from the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Mumbai Indians bought a total of six players at the auction to complete their squad of 24.
Mumbai Indians’ possible starting XI
One of the major reasons for Mumbai’s topsy-curvy season last year was their skipper Rohit Sharma’s dismal form with the bat, managing less than 300 runs from 14 games. With some scintillating T20 numbers which includes 4 staggering T20I hundreds, Rohit will have to find a way to open the innings this time, as he is too good a player to bat anywhere else. The skipper is likely to open the batting along with the traded wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock.
After showing a lot of promise with his remarkable power-hitting ability, Ishan Kishan is a sure starter for the crucial No.3 spot. He will also be hoping to carry his spectacular domestic form in the upcoming IPL season as well. Suryakumar Yadav, who was Mumbai Indians’ star performer in the previous edition with more than 500 runs to his name, will have to make do with his opening spot, in order to accommodate Rohit up the order.
Windies star big-hitting batsman Kieron Pollard struggled to get amongst the runs last year as he played only a solitary match-winning knock. He will be eyeing to strike some form while batting at five, a position where he is perfectly suited with his phenomenal ability to attack the opposition bowlers in the middle as well as death overs. However, if Pollard continues his poor show this year, the team management will then be tempted to introduce their surprise package, Yuvraj Singh.
After recovering from his back injury, Hardik Pandya looks to be fully charged to be part of the XI. However, with the 2019 World Cup just around the corner, the franchise might be forced to give their premier all-rounder some amount of rest to avoid any more injury issues. Along with bowling his quota of four overs, Hardik will handle the big responsibility of playing the role of a finisher at the No.6 position.
Along with Hardik, his elder sibling Krunal Pandya and Ben Cutting are expected to be the other two all-rounders in the playing XI. Much like his younger brother, Krunal is also quite a utility player, who has the ability to tonk as well as bat sensibly in the pressure situations. Besides his batting credentials, he is a pretty handy left-arm spinner, who can pick up wickets consistently during the middle-overs stage. Whereas after doing a great job in the minimal opportunities last season, Cutting will be aiming to replicate his stunning BBL form in IPL 2019.
After a breakthrough season last year which also earned him a place in the national side, Mayank Markande will be leading the spin department along with Krunal Pandya. The Mumbai Indians have a lot of quality fast bowlers in their ranks and it will be a tough task for the management to figure out the right combination. One of their works of picking up the leader of the attack will be an easier one, as India’s premier fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah is fittingly the most suitable candidate to perform that role. However, keeping the World Cup in mind, Bumrah’s fitness management will also be a big concern for them.
Bumrah will be accompanied by the bowling duo of Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan. Malinga is expected to be slotted straightaway as Mustafizur Rahman’s replacement to guard his accustomed role of a death-over specialist. After an ordinary performance last year, McClenaghan would also be quite keen to make the difference this time around.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Lasith Malinga, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah.