The much awaited tournament Indian Premier League is finally knocking at the door and with IPL coming in just 8 days, it’s time we start making our playing 11s of every side. Not only as a fan of our respective sides but also as a cricket enthusiast, we love discussing what a playing 11 would be to begin with and that starts with making the strongest possible combination on paper. We are doing just the same thing in this series and we continue this series with looking at how the playing 11 of Mumbai Indians would shape up.
Perhaps the strongest side on paper along with KKR, the four Mumbai Indians start their campaign against Chennai Super Kings in the opening game of IPL. Without any further ado, let’s take a look at their possible playing 11 for the opening game.
Mumbai Indians don’t have any significant confusions in the batting order as they’ve got a very settled batting lineup right from the beginning where South African Quinton De Kock is a certainty to bat at the top of the order. DeKock moved from RCB to Mumbai last year and was the top scorer for them with 529 runs from 16 games. Playing spin on the slow surfaces still remains a challenge for DeKock and he needs to be wary of other options as his replacement in case he has a long dry period.
Rohit Sharma has been a consistent pillar of support for the team with his leadership abilities but there is one thing he needs to correct and that’s his batting. In the last 3 seasons combined, he has scored only just over 1000 runs and has got out to spin very often. The UAE pitches, as we all know will support spin and if Mumbai have to win a trophy in even year, Rohit either has to give them a good start or play till the end.
Suryakumar Yadav at 3 has been ideal for the team as he knows how to play in both the gears as per the team demands. Yadav has a very unorthodox way of batting which helps him beat the field placings by the opposition. Surya scored 512 and 424 runs in last two seasons for MI and he will again have a key role to play this year batting at such a pivotal position.
Before we move down to 5,6 and 7, number is one slot which still has some options and some confusion about it. Ishan Kishan looks the most likeliest candidate to play at this slot, but if MI management decides to play an extra all-rounder in the form of Anukul Roy or Jayant Yadav in the lower middle order then Hardik Pandya could be elevated at 4. But it looks like a big risk in the opening game and hence it is safe to say Ishan Kishan, who got only 7 games last year will get to play more this year.
Pollard has been like a family member to Mumbai Indians and the team management seems to have immense faith in him which he has paid them back time to time as well. Even in the last year’s final, it was his 25 balls 41 which had given some impetus to MI’s batting. Although he doesn’t bowl much these days. MI too will not mind him not bowling as they already 6 proper bowling options except him. Pollard at 5 is a fixed deal.
Hardik Pandya at 6 gives Mumbai a great balance both in terms of finishing and having a bowling option both. The junior Pandya had a ballistic season in 2019 when he scored 402 runs and picked 14 wickets with ball too. Expect the dynamic all-rounder to repeat the same kind of performance with bat at least.
Krunal Pandya, unlike his brother Hardik had a disppointing season in 2019 and he almost cost MI the final as well. Krunal only got 12 wickets with ball and scored over 180 runs in those 16 matches. Inspite of all this, Krunal is likely to start the tournament at 7 but his spin bowling abilities may Mumbai think about playing an extra spinner apart from him and Rahul Chahar.
Nathan Coulter-Nile/ Mitchell McClenaghan
Number 8 is a bit complicated position and in the absence of Malinga, they’d have two options to choose from as the one of the two overseas fast bowling options. Nathan Coulter-Nile hasn’t played IPL since 2017 but his batting capabilities tells he is a better option than Mitchell McClenaghan who has been quite a regular in all the MI features and has been used as a wicket taking option. Either of the two could play depending on the strategy of Mumbai Indians.
Trent Boult had been drafted from Delhi Capitals to Mumbai Indians before the auction and as much skeptical you can be as Paltan fan, you’d also be excited to see Boult taking the new ball playing the dark blue jersey. The trio of Bumrah, Boult and either of Coulter-Nile and McClenaghan is going to be an exciting fast bowling attack to watch in this season.
Rahul Chahar, a very talented young leg spinner performed better than the expectations in 2019 where he took 13 wickets in 13 matches at an economy of only 6.55 which was a great deal for a youngster who had played only 3 matches before it. His important spell of 1-14 in the final also turned out to be quite a game changer in the context of the situation.
Jasprit Bumrah is among those 9 players who is a sure starter for this teama nd why wouldn’t he be? His T20 skills and achievements need no introduction. Although he hasn’t been able to pick as many wickets for Mumbai as he does for India, he still does the job which is required of him. He still has picked up 56 wickets in last season and no franchise would be complaining with such brilliant returns. Bumrah is an outright match winner, probably the biggest one in Mumbai Indians and he’d have to do that same job without Malinga this year if MI have to break the jinx of not winning the IPL in even years.