Even before the auction, the Mumbai Indians (MI) seemed to have a lethal squad. They cleared a certain amount of clutter in their squad by releasing a few players and trading a few others. This team was capable of forming a starting XI even without the auction. What they have done in Kolkata is that they made some smart moves and also picked some great talents from the domestic circuit.
The MI management, with the newest additions, has given itself more options to choose from. They have managed to get hold of some match-winners like Chris Lynn, Nathan Coulter-Nile amongst a few others. MI has always seemed well-rounded and these players only add further depth to what is already a very strong squad. With the kind of team they have in place, Mumbai will surely fancy a fifth title.
Here is how the Starting XI of the Mumbai Indians (MI) could look like:
1. Rohit Sharma (c)
With Mumbai Indians (MI) purchasing Chris Lynn at the auction, skipper Rohit Sharma has now got a problem of plenty. There are quite a few options for the openers’ slot. However, the duo of Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock has been a tried and tested one.
It seems extremely tough for MI to accommodate Chris Lynn in the line-up unless they decide to slot Rohit Sharma down the order or bat Lynn at three; thus weakening the bowling attack. Keeping all this in mind, the MI management might not want to experiment right at the start of the tournament. Hence, they might go ahead with the trusted combination.
Rohit Sharma will be one of the openers. He will take up the same role at the T20 World Cup 2020 as well and thus will not want to change things. His leadership has often been inspirational and he will be one of the biggest strengths for this side.
2. Quinton de Kock (wk)
Quinton de Kock is the best wicket-keeping option that the Mumbai Indians have got. They can go ahead with Ishan Kishan with the gloves and maybe try out Chris Lynn at this position. However, the South African batsman has done a good job for the franchise last season.
He was amongst one of the leading run-scorers in the 2019 season with 529 runs in 16 games at an average of 35. De Kock often gets his side off to good starts and he is quite an aggressive cricketer. He might have blown hot and cold with his form in recent times.
But that shouldn’t bother MI much since he is a quality player and they will prefer him in the Starting XI. After a few games, they can possibly analyse where things stand. If there is a requirement, they can then switch Quinton with Lynn.
3. Suryakumar Yadav
Mumbai should have Suryakumar Yadav batting at three. The cricketer can be slightly flexible with his position but at three, he will have the best chance of expressing himself. Surya is a clean striker of the ball and did a good job for his team in the previous edition of the league.
His form in the domestic tournaments has been splendid and he seems to be at his best at the moment. It is a pity that a player of such quality hasn’t managed to make it into the Indian team as yet. However, he will want to continue with good performances and must not let the external factors affect him.
At this position, MI could possibly give Suryakumar the role of being an anchor. With so many power-hitters around him, he should look to hold one end tight and he has got all the shots in his book to accelerate. The upcoming season could well be a career-defining one for him.
4. Ishan Kishan
For the starters, MI might play Ishan Kishan. In fact, they don’t have many other options and thus the Jharkhand cricketer could get a few games under his belt. But at the same time, there are players in the ranks waiting for opportunities.
As a cover, the management also purchased Saurabh Tiwary at the auction. He could be a good option to bat in the top-order. Or, Aditya Tare is another alternative. Thus, even though he might get a few games early on, Ishan must perform on a consistent basis.
He can’t throw his wicket away with aggressive batting and should look to put a price on his wicket. Ishan Kishan is somewhat similar to Rishabh Pant with the way he goes about things. He should look to improve upon a few aspects of his game just like his U19 teammate. A few good performances could even potentially get him on the flight to Australia later next year.
5. Kieron Pollard
Mumbai Indians have managed to stick with Kieron Pollard even during the difficult times when he was not performing. The management should pat themselves on the back for doing this as he is a game-changer. The West Indies white-ball captain is slowly getting back to his best.
He has seemed to have found his form back with the bat and has done decently well last year. Moreover, he has started to bowl in recent times and is working upon improving in this aspect. This is huge as it could potentially change the complete dynamics of the side.
Kieron Pollard can be extremely smart with the ball and when at his best, he could make a significant difference as he did in the past. Furthermore, he is a terrific fielder. He brings the leadership qualities to the group and is an important part of their think tank. MI should look to bat him at five or maybe even higher up the order.
6. Hardik Pandya
Of late, Hardik Pandya has struggled with his fitness. Since the end of World Cup 2019, the all-rounder hasn’t played a lot of cricket. He has had to cope up with a couple of injuries which have kept him away from the game for a long time.
However, he seems to be working extremely hard on his fitness and is likely to make his comeback soon. By the time the next edition of the IPL begins, he is expected to be fully fit. Hardik would have had a few games under his belt by the time IPL 2020 kicks off.
Moreover, these IPL games can be highly beneficial for him since he will also be preparing for the T20 World Cup 2020. Hardik was brilliant in the last season in terms of his hitting ability and was indeed a game-changer. He will hope that he will replicate similar heroics in the upcoming season as well and will be a floater in the line-up.
7. Krunal Pandya
Krunal Pandya is another indispensable part of the MI set-up and is a no-brainer to make it into the starting XI. He adds a terrific balance to the team and that is why the team shelled out a huge price to buy him at the auction earlier. With his all-round abilities, Krunal adds a whole new level of flexibility to the team.
Rohit Sharma often trusts him to bowl during the tougher phases of a game and he ends up picking some crucial wickets for his team. Krunal enjoys the challenges and likes bowling at the batsmen who go after him. Moreover, he is a safe fielder and a brisk mover on the field.
While the Baroda cricketer has made some valuable contributions for his team with the bat, MI will still hope that he improves further in this department. There isn’t much consistency and it seems as if Krunal finds it tough to go into the top gear straight away.
8. Rahul Chahar
Slowly but steadily, Rahul Chahar has escalated up the ranks to become one of the most important spinners for the Mumbai Indians. He is one of the crafty wrist spinners around and has also been in the reckoning for Team India for a long time now. In 2019 season, the younger Chahar did a great job for his team.
Even though he was around for a couple of seasons before as well, it was the last season which brought him the limelight. He picked up 13 wickets in 13 matches in the last season. His economy rate of 6.55 is also quite impressive. In the last season, Rahul even picked up two consecutive three-wicket hauls.
One year down the line, he is expected to be a much-improved bowler. Rahul will have to find ways to pick more wickets in the middle overs. Jayant Yadav is another good alternative for this slot in the playing eleven.
9. Lasith Malinga
With this squad that they have, MI can continue having at least two overseas pacers or all-rounders in their team. They have got a lot of options here and this again is a headache to the management. The likes of Mitchell McClenaghan, Sherfane Rutherford and Nathan Coulter-Nile are all great options.
While Lasith Malinga is still around, Mumbai Indians would still prefer him as the first-choice pick. However, they can also use the other options at various stages of the tournament to manage the Sri Lanka cricketer’s fitness and workload. With his excellent bowling, Malinga helped his team win the title last season.
The pacer isn’t as effective as he was a few years ago. However, his experience still counts big time and he can adapt accordingly. Malinga, however, should try to be slightly more economical.
10. Trent Boult
There are a few options MI can pick from. However, it is highly likely that the management will go ahead with Trent Boult for the first game. The New Zealand quick finds an advantage over some of the others since he is a left-arm bowler.
He is capable of swinging the new ball both the ways and MI can look at him as a wicket-taking option in the powerplay overs. Over the last few seasons, Trent Boult has struggled while dealing with the death overs. With the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga in this side, he doesn’t need to worry about this aspect.
MI could rather look to use him at the start and during the middle overs. It shouldn’t be much of a problem even if he doesn’t complete his quota of four overs since the captain has got many other options to look at. At the later stages, they can consider Coulter-Nile and McClenaghan if required or can have Rutherford.
11. Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah will be the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle related to the MI Playing XI. Given that he maintains his fitness, he should play all the games in the season. He is truly an x-factor for the team and makes a huge difference for them.
Bumrah can bowl at any stage of the innings and has got some brilliant tricks up his sleeve. He is the best bowler in the world and Mumbai’s chances will rely a lot on how he fares in the upcoming season. In the last four seasons, he has been a terrific performer for the side.
In 2019, he picked up 19 wickets in 16 games. For someone who operates in the powerplay and at the death, an economy rate of 6.63 is extraordinary. In the last two seasons, he has managed to keep that economy rate below 7.
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