Can they get the right mix?

It is in the bowling department that the Mumbai Franchise is brimming with options. In Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh (Right) the franchise possesses the twin bowling strengths of India's national side.-S. SUBRAMANIUM It is in the bowling department that the Mumbai Franchise is brimming with options. In Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh (Right) the franchise possesses the twin bowling strengths of India's national side.

Everything went wrong for Sachin Tendulkar’s team in the first season.

The maestro was injured; replacement skipper Harbhajan Singh slapped his way to a ban; and by the time the team ran up six wins on the trot a semifinal place had all but slipped out of its grasp.

With Shaun Pollock having transformed into a ‘mentor’ this season, Mumbai Indians has the perfect person in place to guide it through South African conditions. It also boasts two southpaws — the $950,000 J.P. Duminy and the hard-hitting Ryan McLaren — both of whom would also bring to Indians their knowledge of South African conditions.

It wouldn’t take a degree in rocket science to continue with the opening combo of Sanath Jayasuriya, who single-handedly won MI a couple of matches last year, and Sachin Tendulkar, whose comfort at the top of the order in the shorter formats of the game is beyond doubt.

With Shikhar Dhawan, Duminy and the flashy Mohammed Ashraful to follow, the middle-order looks set as well. But it is in the bowling department that the Mumbai franchise is brimming with options.

In Zaheer Khan — inducted as a trade-off for Robin Uthappa — and Harbhajan Singh the franchise possesses the twin bowling strengths of India’s national side. Lasith Malinga can be quite a handful (his hair an unsightly distraction as well); Kyle Mills is known to bowl a mean ball on occasion; Dwayne Bravo can deliver with the bat and turn his arm over with effect; Jayasuriya and Sachin fancy themselves as wicket-takers as much as anybody else.

The tricky part for Mumbai Indians — as for several other teams — will be to find the right mix of foreign and local players (four foreign players are allowed in the XI). If that mixture could be titrated to its optimum value, MI would be a tough side to beat.