Best finish: Champion (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020)
Last season: 10 (Last)
From being champion for two successive seasons to failing to make it to the Playoffs, Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians has made a U-turn to the beginning of the IPL, when it didn’t go past the league stage for the first two editions. In fact, it hit rock bottom in 2022, finishing last in the 10-team table.
The only way, then, is upward. However, the task will be onerous, considering the team has been plagued with multiple injuries, especially in the bowling department. The team, perhaps, has to rely on its past history of going all the way in the second season after a full auction. It did in 2015 and 2019. Can it repeat the streak in 2023?
Strengths: For a line-up that looks as shaky as last year, at least on paper, the biggest strength is the return of the Mumbai Indians to the Wankhede Stadium. The last time the IPL was played on home-and-away basis, Mumbai Indians had emerged as the champion, and won six of the eight games it played at its den.
Jofra Archer, the newest sensation, cannot ask for a better strip than the red-soil bouncy track at the Wankhede to set the new home turf on fire. If Cameron Green turns the tide and withstands the big bucks’ pressure, it will be the biggest boon for the team.
ALSO READ - MI coach Boucher open to resting Rohit for ‘one or two games’
Weaknesses: Owing to Jasprit Bumrah’s prolonged back injury and Jhye Richardson being ruled out of the tournament at the 11th hour, Mumbai Indians’s pace unit — despite Archer’s addition — appears to be its weak link. The injuries to two prime pacers has also proved detrimental to the balance of its first-choice XI. With Kieron Pollard having retired from the IPL and joined the star-studded coaching staff, Tim David is the numero uno finisher and Green the primary all-rounder. Should Jason Behrendorff be included as Archer’s new-ball partner, it may result in MI being forced to bench Dewald Brevis, thus possibly weakening the batting line-up.
Rohit Sharma (captain): The last time Rohit had a 400-run season was in 2019. The last season was his worst ever, as he failed to notch up even a fifty, while tallying a meagre 268 runs at a sub-20 average and 120-ish strike rate. No wonder the Borivali bomber-turned-Hitman will be desperate to come out all guns blazing in his hometown.
Best overseas player - Jofra Archer: Archer may grab all the attention but Cameron Green’s form will perhaps decide the Mumbai Indians’ fate this season. If he can fill in the big boots of Kieron Pollard and emerge as the allrounder in the unit, Green could well fetch a bonus beyond his ₹17-crore-plus price tag.
Best Indian player - Suryakumar Yadav: He may have had a forgettable ODI series against Australia but Suryakumar Yadav will be ready to shine in his hometown. Having set the T20I stage ablaze with his jaw-dropping innovative strokeplay all through 2022, Suryakumar will be desperate to repeat the heroics in a tournament that has largely been the saviour to changing the landscape of his career.
Best uncapped player - Tilak Varma: Despite the forgettable 2022 season for the team, Tilak Varma was one of the brightest young spots not only for the Mumbai Indians but even for the IPL family. If the stylish left-hander who showcased his ability to adapt to the situation in plenty last season can overcome the second-season blues, he could well be the catalyst in changing MI’s fortunes.
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