Defending champions Mumbai Indians made IPL history when they won the IPL title in 2017, making them the first team ever to win the tournament three times. Mumbai Indians achieved the feat in 2013, 2015 and in 2017, with all the wins coming under the leadership of Rohit Sharma.
Mumbai Indians came into the IPL 2018 auction with three players retained prior to the auction. The three players that MI retained were captain Rohit Sharma, all-rounder Hardik Pandya and death overs king Jasprit Bumrah.
MI decided not to retain the only player who had played for them for a decade, Harbhajan Singh; and with him, Lasith Malinga was also not retained, but was hired as a bowling mentor for the team.
Mumbai Indians went after some of the players who had played for them previously and bought Krunal Pandya for Rs 8.8 cr and Kieron Pollard for Rs 5. cr using their Right To Match cards.
Mumbai also bought Saurabh Tiwary (Rs 80 lakh), Suryakumar Yadav (Rs 3.2 cr), Ben Cutting (Rs 2.2 cr), and Ishan Kishan (Rs 6.2 cr). They had to replace Lasith Malinga with someone and managed to grab Pat Cummins for Rs 5.4 cr and Mustafizur Rahman for Rs 2.2 cr.
Mumbai had bought Australian quick Jason Behrendorff in the auction, but it was revealed that he had not recovered from his back injury. MI bought in Mitchell McClenaghan in his place, who had played a big role in MI’s IPL win in 2017.
Rohit Sharma will lead Mumbai Indians again in IPL 2018, but with some new faces in his team.
Let’s take a look at the strengths of Mumbai Indians
STRENGTHS OF MI:
Mumbai Indians have been the most dominating team in the Indian Premier League since its inception. It took MI 6 years to win their first IPL title, but since then, they have won it every alternate year. Their main strength has been playing with a core of 4-5 players on whom the other players rotate upon.
This time the batting will be dependent on young and exciting Windies batsman Evin Lewis, JP Duminy, Saurabh Tiwary and Suryakumar Yadav. These pure batsmen will be lead by Rohit Sharma, who is a destructive opener in his own right. Rohit Sharma as a skipper for MI is their biggest strength, as he is inspirational and lead from front every time the team needs him.
Rohit will also like his all-rounders to come to the forefront and this role will be played by the likes of Hardik and Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting. Wicket-keeping duties will be handled by Ishan Kishan and his backup will be Aditya Tare.
Mumbai Indians have also been one of the best bowling units in the IPL and this year too, bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins, Mustafizur Rahman and Mitchell McClenaghan will be enough to terrorize the opposition batting.
The main strength of Mumbai Indians lies in their spirit of never say die and continuously fighting the opposition even when the tide is against them.
Now let's move on to the weaknesses that can prove a hurdle in MI defending their title
The Mumbai Indians spent big bucks in buying the best openers, fast bowlers, and batsmen; however, they forgot to buy a good spinner for the whole of the tournament. Though the likes of Krunal Pandya, Mayank Markande, Anukul Roy and Rahul Chahar are deemed as spinners; apart from Krunal, they don’t have much experience of bowling under pressure in big games.
MI didn’t retain Harbhajan Singh or went for the spinner in the auctions and now they don’t have a big name spinner to sustain the good bowling momentum in middle overs. They have pinned their hopes on Sri Lankan Akila Dananjaya and young Rahul Chahar to assist Krunal in the spin department, however, on tracks that offer spin, they will miss a genuine, big name and experienced spinner.
One more weakness is that the young Patna born player Ishan Kishan will have to don the gloves for Mumbai Indians. Ishan Kishan played extensively for the Gujarat Lions in IPL, but didn't keep wickets for them. This inexperience of keeping in IPL may hamper Kishan.
Though they have an option in Aditya Tare to keep wickets, Kishan will be preferred over Tare, for his superior batting skills.
However, their main concerns will be their two talented foreign bowlers Pat Cummins and Mustafizur Rahman, who are highly injury prone and the team management will have to keep a close eye out on their fitness.
BEST BUY OF THE AUCTION
Best buy of the auction was actually the use of the right to match card on Krunal Pandya. The elder of the two Pandya brothers, Krunal played a big role in Mumbai’s win over RPS in the IPL 2017 finals and MI couldn’t afford to let him go.
Krunal will have the chance to own this year’s IPL and stake a claim for the Indian team berth.
Mumbai Indians have formed a team with both experienced and youngsters. However, it will be a challenge for Rohit Sharma to get the spinning all-rounders to do the work of a genuine spinner. Also, the inexperience of their young players may cost them in pressure situations.
However, Mumbai Indians have enough experience and talent in Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and JP Duminy to wade through any difficulty in defending their title.
Mumbai Indians are mostly likely to make the playoffs and even the finals.
MUMBAI INDIANS SQUAD 2018:
Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Pat Cummins, Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Ben Cutting, Mustafizur Rahman, Rahul Chahar, Pradeep Sangwan, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Saurabh Tiwary, Tajinder Dhillon, Akila Dhananjaya, Nidheesh M D Dinesan, Aditya Tare, Siddhesh Dinesh Lad, Mayank Markande, Sharad Lumba, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan