Problems aplenty for Mumbai Indians

The Mumbai franchise has quite a few issues to tackle before it begins its campaign to regain the trophy it had won in 2013 and 2015.

Mumbai Indians’ fortunes depend a lot on Rohit Sharma’s fitness. K. Murali Kumar   -  K. Murali Kumar

After consistently making the cut for the last four stage for six consecutive years, Mumbai Indians — the most expensive of the original eight IPL franchises — narrowly missed out on a playoff berth last season. As if that isn’t reason enough for concern, the team has more issues to sort out before it begins its campaign to regain the trophy, which it has won twice.

First, in continuation of its tradition of boasting a high profile support staff, Mumbai Indians has roped in former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene as the head coach. No doubt, Jayawardene has been one of the shrewdest brains as a player, but he has not been a part of the IPL bandwagon for the last three editions. It would be interesting to see him make a return to IPL, that too in a new avatar, in style.

Captain Rohit Sharma’s fitness is also a concern for the team. After injuring his thigh during the ODI series against New Zealand last October, Rohit underwent a surgery that was followed by a prolonged rehabilitation. He returned to the field during Mumbai’s Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign. However, a bothersome knee forced him to opt out of the Deodhar Trophy.

The MI Paltan, the team’s fan brigade, would be keeping its fingers crossed, hoping for Rohit to walk out for the toss for Mumbai Indians’ season-opener on April 6.

Rohit’s presence will be important, as a leader and the backbone of Mumbai Indians’ batting line-up. One of the main issues he had to deal with in the last couple of seasons was his batting position. With the team struggling to find a reliable opening pair, Rohit had to move between the opening and middle-order slots. The re-jigged unit would be hoping to find a settled opening combination, with ‘The Hitman’ leading from the front.

Mumbai Indians has bolstered its bowling armoury by welcoming Mitchell Johnson back into the fold. The Australian fast bowler’s skill and experience will surely be an asset for the team.

Should Johnson turn the clock back and Rohit find his silken touch with the bat, Mumbai Indians can be expected to claim its third IPL title.