IPL 2021 MI team preview: Strong XI and a battery of back-ups for Mumbai Indians

IPL 2021: With virtually all the bases covered, it would take a huge effort for any other franchise to deprive Mumbai Indians of extending its title run.

Hitman’s hurricanes will yet again enter as red-hot favourites to become the first IPL franchise to register a hat-trick of IPL titles.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

In 2010, Pakistan had to begin its World T20 title defence a little over 10 months after lifting the coveted trophy in June 2009. Cut to 2021, and Mumbai Indians will be back on the field as defending champion less than six months after Rohit Sharma earned a record fifth Indian Premier League (IPL) title for the franchise last November.

And just like a better part of the last decade, Hitman’s hurricanes will yet again enter as red-hot favourites to become the first IPL franchise to register a hat-trick of IPL titles on May 30. Since 2013, the team has never failed to be crowned champion in an odd year and it would literally be odd if MI doesn’t keep the record.

Our correspondents Vijay Lokapally, Shayan Acharya and Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya discuss the men's side's season thus far and what to look forward to in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.

 


IPL 2021 SRH team preview: Will the sun rise in Hyderabad?

IPL 2021 RCB team preview: Challenges aplenty for Challengers

IPL 2021 KKR team preview: Can the Knights tell a new tale?

IPL 2021 Punjab Kings team preview: New name, renewed hope

IPL 2021 CSK team preview: Chennai Super Kings looks to roar again

IPL 2021 Rajasthan Royals team preview - Samson and Co. ready to rumble  

After all, MI for the last couple of years has been by a distance the most settled, the most prepared and the most confident team in the IPL bandwagon. In fact, except for fitness issues to more than a couple of key players, the team would be in a position to field an XI full of players with international cricket experience right through the tournament. It is often said that MI’s first-choice XI will be hard to beat even for an international T20 side of repute. It just stamps the fact that the team has all the bases covered. Not only does it reflect in the strong preferred XI but also with a battery of back-ups it has.

Ishan Kishan and Surya Kumar Yadav were in terrific form last season and Mumbai Indians will hope the duo continues the good job this time around too.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

 

For instance, if Quinton de Kock breaks down at the top or misses the last fortnight due to his international commitments, Chris Lynn — who couldn’t get a game throughout the last season — is a potent opener and Ishan Kishan can keep wickets. Even if Ishan breaks down, Aditya Tare — the Man of the Match of Mumbai’s triumphant Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign — can don the gloves and be a potent batsman.

Similarly, Kieron Pollard has a readymade back-up in James Neesham and Marco Jansen, both newbies to MI family this time around; Krunal Pandya has Anukul Roy as back-up; veteran leggie Piyush Chawla has been brought in as a back-up-cum-mentor for young Rahul Chahar; and in-form Dhawal Kulkarni would continue to be waiting in the wings unless Jasprit Bumrah requires a break.

MI's Best buy of 2021

Not many would have heard of Marco Jansen before Mumbai Indians bought him at the base price towards the fag end of the 2021 Player Auction. But by the end of the tournament, the South African may well emerge as the next big thing on the IPL horizon. The 6’8” tall left-arm pacer is handy with the willow and can well fill in the vacant overseas pace bowling all-rounders’ slot. The MI scouts have been tracking him for a couple of years and only after de Kock gave them a green signal ahead of the auction did the management decide to go for him.

In order to shed the tag of a slow starter, MI management has been stressing on a prolonged preparatory camp ahead of the IPL. If the domestic cricketers training together for well over a month at the Jio Stadium in Navi Mumbai before departing for the United Arab Emirates was enough to ensure MI didn’t suffer any post-lockdown syndrome in IPL 2020, it’s been a similar case this time around as well.

SRH mentor V. V. S. Laxman: Strength lies in bowling options

RCB's Mike Hesson: Looking forward to Virat Kohli opening

KKR's Dinesh Karthik: Need to spend a little more time at the crease  

Almost all the domestic cricketers have been slogging it out in the MI bubble for almost a month before the team officially entered the IPL bio-bubble. No doubt the team will miss the vibe of its den, the Wankhede Stadium, with no team set to feature at its designated base this season. Still with virtually all the bases covered, it would take a huge effort for any other franchise to deprive MI of extending its title run.

Ideal Playing XI

Rohit Sharma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Adam Milne/ Marco Jansen/ James Neesham, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah.