Freddie Wilde previews the Mumbai Indians.
Last Season: 5th
Last season was a disappointing campaign for three-time champions Mumbai Indians who lost a number of very close matches – four times in the last over and once by just three runs. These narrow defeats ultimately proved to be the difference between a top four finish or not with Mumbai missing out on a place in the Play Offs by just two points; a result which failed to reflect the strength of their squad. Mumbai played some good cricket throughout the season and were unfortunate to not make the top four.
Mumbai made one significant money for player trade ahead of the auction, bringing in Quinton de Kock from RCB. Before the auction Mumbai released four overseas players: Mustafizur Rahman who was refused an NOC by the BCB with concerns over his workload in a World Cup year, Pat Cummins whose availability is likely to be poor due to his involvement in Australia’s World Cup squad and Akila Dananjaya and JP Duminy. Mumbai also released Indians Saurabh Tiwary, Tajinder Singh, Mohsin Khan, Pradeep Sangwan, MD Nidheesh and Sharad Lumba. At the auction Mumbai only added six players to their squad, despite having released ten – opting for a smaller squad this season. Their most expensive additions were the Indian seam bowler Barinder Sran and Sri Lankan veteran Lasith Malinga who was the bowling coach last season. Yuvraj Singh was another notable signing.
Openers (3): Evin Lewis, Quinton de Kock, Anmolpreet Singh
Middle-order batsmen (3): Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Siddhesh Lad
Wicketkeepers (2): Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare
Allrounders (6): Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, Yuvraj Singh, Pankaj Jaiswal
Wristspinners (2): Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar
Fingerspinners (2): Anukul Roy, Jayant Yadav
Fast bowlers (7): Jasprit Bumrah, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Rasikh Salam, Lasith Malinga, Barinder Sran
Indian batting core
Rohit, Suryakumar, Kishan, Hardik and Krunal is a very strong Indian batting core and gives them some flexibility with how they want to use their overseas players.
Lower order hitting
Mumbai have one of the strongest late middle orders in the IPL with Hardik and Krunal joined by one of Pollard and Cutting – all of whom score at more than 10 runs per over in the death over phase of T20s. Pollard’s hitting quality has declined slightly in recent years but he remains a very dangerous player and is a better player of spin than Cutting.
Mumbai have one of the strongest pace attacks in the IPL. India’s best pace bowler Bumrah is joined by the perennially underrated Milne and the exceptional left-armer Behrendorff – both of whom should be available for the whole season given they are unlikely to be in their country’s respective World Cup squads. Malinga also makes a return to the playing squad after a year coaching and his international form suggests he still has the quality to trouble the world’s best batsmen. McClenaghan was a surprising retention but his availability will be unaffected by the World Cup as well. Sran is an exciting signing with plenty of potential.
Mumbai have two excellent overseas opening batsmen in Lewis and de Kock – whichever they do select should be afforded an extended run in the team to prove himself. Lewis is the higher impact batsman but de Kock is in exceptional form and is a higher impact wicket-keeper than Kishan.
Wrist spin bowling
Krunal is an exceptional finger spinner and can be relied upon to provide consistently economical spells. However, the role of the attacking wrist spinner is not quite as secure. Last season Markande had a breakthrough season, taking 14 wickets at a strike rate of 18.8 balls per wicket. Repeating this performance again will be a challenge for the teenager though and Mumbai’s only alternative wrist spinner is the 19 year-old Rahul Chahar.
Rohit Sharma’s batting position
Mumbai have consistently failed to get the most out of Rohit’s batting with India’s T20 opener seemingly determined to bat in the middle order for his IPL team. Across the last two IPL seasons Rohit has averaged 23.83 at a run rate of only 7.98 runs per over. Mumbai would be much better served opening the batting with Rohit and giving him the most possible time to influence the game. Moving him up the order won’t weaken Mumbai’s already strong middle order either.
Key Player: Krunal Pandya
With injury doubts surrounding Hardik and Bumrah and a scarcity of spinners to call upon, Krunal will play a pivotal role with both bat and ball. Bumrah and Hardik’s presence in India’s ODI squad may see them pulled out of the IPL early while Krunal will be available for the duration. Over the last few seasons Krunal has been one of the most consistent all rounders in the IPL: powerful with the bat, economical with the ball and a livewire in the field he contributes in all areas and will play a crucial role in a season where Mumbai’s squad depth will be tested.
Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz. @fwildecricket