IPL 2020: Mumbai Indians team preview - Geared up for title defence

The last two times the four-time champion tried to defend its title, it did not even make the playoffs.

Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma.   -  Vivek Bendre

If the unprecedented delay in staging the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 13th edition, owing to the pandemic, seems to have been a boon for a team, it has to be the defending champion.

In the last six months, the most successful IPL outfit has regained its reputation of being Mumbai Invincibles after being in danger of being touted as Mumbai Injured had the IPL got off to its scheduled start on March 29 earlier this year.

In March, Mumbai Indians (MI) — despite becoming the first team to win four titles — found itself in a precarious position owing to fitness-related issues to three of its stars. Captain Rohit Sharma, key all-rounder Hardik Pandya and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah all found themselves battling with their own bodies to keep the MI Paltan — the fan army — involved in a guessing game.

READ| IPL 2020: Sun, sand and cricket

Medium-pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, who returned to his home team after six years and the backup No. 1 to Bumrah, was also racing against time after an operation on his leg in December and MI was well and truly on the verge of being referred to as Mumbai Injured.

Cut to September and the terrific triumvirate of Sharma, Hardik and Bumrah along with veteran Kulkarni have all recovered from their injuries and are desperate to hit the ground running come September 19, when MI will face Chennai Super Kings in the tournament opener.

Mumbai Indians star performers Jasprit Bumrah (left) and Hardik Pandya have recovered from injuries and can’t wait to get into action.   -  K. Murali Kumar

 

The only availability-related concern for MI would be the absence of Lasith Malinga, who has pulled out of the edition due to an ailing father.

However, considering the slow and low pitches that are likely to be in offing in the United Arab Emirates, MI would be hoping that Malinga’s hairdo will be missed more than his slinging yorkers.

That the IPL is slightly spaced out than the earlier editions also augurs well for MI since it will help the side manage the workload of Bumrah and Hardik slightly better. After all, the duo’s role will be critical as MI gears up for a title defence.

READ| IPL 2020: Hoping the bubble doesn’t burst

In fact, the last two times (in 2016 and 2018) the four-time champion tried to defend its title, it did not even make the playoffs.

If at least two of the three musketeers from the Indian star battery are at their peak right through the season, MI can hope to become the first IPL team to win consecutive titles since CSK did it in 2010 and ’11.

The squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Anmolpreet Singh, Chris Lynn , Saurabh Tiwary, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell McClenaghan, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Mohsin Khan, Prince Balwant Rai Singh, Digvijay Deshmukh, Hardik Pandya, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Anukul Roy, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ishan Kishan, Quinton de Kock, Aditya Tare.

Top three run-getters

BatsmanSeasonsRunsMatches100s50sHSAverageStrike rate
Rohit Sharma2011-193,728143128109*31.86130.62
Kieron Pollard2010-192,7551480148328.69146.77
Ambati Rayudu2010-172,41611401481*27.14126.16

Top three wicket-takers

BowlerSeasonsWicketsMatchesFour-wicket haulsBest bowlingAverageEconomy rate
Lasith Malinga2009-1917012265-1319.87.14
Harbhajan Singh2008-1712713615-1826.656.95
Jasprit Bumrah2013-19827703-726.67.55