IPL 2018: Defending champions Mumbai Indians eye another stellar season | cricket | Hindustan Times
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IPL 2018: Defending champions Mumbai Indians eye another stellar season

Having won the title three times, the most by any team in Indian Premier League (IPL), Mumbai Indians (MI) knows what it takes to be a champion.

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2018 16:50 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians are eyeing their fourth Indian Premier League (IPL) title.
Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians are eyeing their fourth Indian Premier League (IPL) title.(IPL)

Mumbai Indians have a pretty balanced squad and will start as one of the favourites yet again after bagging the title last season. Having won the title three times, the most by any team in Indian Premier League (IPL), MI knows what it takes to be a champion.

Rohit Sharma may have had a disappointing time in South Africa in the longer format, but when it comes to IPL, his charisma is unmatchable. Calm and collected, Rohit leads the team from the front and is never shy of trying out new ideas on the field.

Besides retaining Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah, MI used the Right to Match card to rope in Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard, thus keeping the core of their first-team intact.

They have Ishan Kishan and Evin Lewis to provide explosive starts followed by a packed middle-order spearheaded by the skipper himself. The pace bowling department boasts of impressive names like Mustafizur Rahman, Bumrah and Pat Cummins, who has been in rip-roaring form in South Africa. Cummins will be a key to Mumbai Indians bowling this season. Besides, Bumrah has improved leaps and bounds in his bowling and has become an important part of Indian team in all formats. He is known for his death-overs bowling and toe-crushing yorkers. Not to forget Rahman, the Bangladeshi speedster, who known for his deadly cutters.

MI will also look upon the Pandya brothers to give a power-packed performance. Hardik has established himself in the Indian team, while Krunal sparkled in his debut season for MI last year.

Mumbai Indians, however, lacks quality spinners. Left arm spinner Anukul Roy, who was one of the stars of India’s under-19 world cup winning squad, will be the player to watch out for. Another young leg spinner, Rahul Chahar would be looking to make his mark.

Squad

Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Pat Cummins, Ben Cutting, Akila Dananjaya, JP Duminy, Mohsin Khan, Ishan Kishan, Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Sharad Lumba, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McClenaghan, MD Nidheesh, Mustafizur Rahman, Anukul Roy, Pradeep Sangwan, Tajinder Singh, Aditya Tare, Saurabh Tiwary, Suryakumar Yadav

Support staff

Mahela Jayawardene (head coach), Robin Singh (batting coach), Shane Bond (bowling coach), Lasith Malinga (bowling mentor), James Pamment (fielding coach), Nitin Patel (physiotherapist) Paul Chapman (strength and conditioning coach), Rahul Sanghvi (team manager), Shyam Sundar Jayapalan (assistant physiotherapist)

FIVE INDIAN PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Rohit Sharma: Besides the vast amount of experience that he brings to the side, Sharma’s explosive batting credentials are enough to turn a match on its head. He has not been among runs in South Africa in the longer format but got his form back in the ODIs. He will hope to deliver the goods during the IPL season.

Hardik Pandya: The all-rounder will be a vital cog to the MI squad given that he will be expected to provide quite a few quickfire knocks coming lower down the order. He has had a rapid growth with the national side, earning caps in all three formats in just 18 months.

Jasprit Bumrah: Lasith Malinga might be in the dug-outs but there won’t be any dearth of toe-crushing yorkers. A specialist in death-overs, Bumrah will be MI’s go-to man to clean up the top-order and disrupt solid partnerships at crucial intervals. His unorthodox action makes it extremely difficult to read his variations.

Krunal Pandya: While he might not have played international cricket yet, the reason he’s kept in the same bracket is because of his contribution to MI in the past couple of seasons. An IPL strike rate of 158.41 and economy of just above seven perhaps justifies why MI splashed ₹8.8cr on him.

Ishan Kishan: The southpaw might be low on experience but his explosive batting style coupled with his ability to keep wickets makes him a handy contributor to any side. A former captain of the under-19 squad, Kishan might open batting with either Sharma or Evin Lewis accompanying him.

FIVE OVERSEAS PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Kieron Pollard: If there’s one knock that defines Pollard’s explosive hitting abilities, the 32-ball 60 in the 2013 IPL final that got MI their first title, is a perfect endorsement. He might have slowed down a bit but is still capable of producing those knocks in the middle-order besides plugging in with a few vital overs.

Evin Lewis: Another Caribbean with big shots in his artillery, Lewis is a perfect T20 specialist with a strike rate of 154.96 and two centuries in international games. The Trinidadian should be one of MI’s openers and will be expected to provide them a solid platform upfront.

Mustafizur Rahman: He might have to sit out a few games given the number of back-ups MI have in the pace department but the Bangladesh speedstar can pose quite a few problems to the opposition when he’s on song. His wily off-cutters are his most potent weapon.

Mitchell McClenaghan: The Kiwi international joins the star-studded pace battery of MI as a late replacement for Australian left-arm fast bowler Jason Behrendorff. Although he hasn’t been too impressive in the recently-concluded Big Bash League, in the last three seasons of the IPL, he has picked up 19, 17 and 18 wickets respectively.

JP Duminy: With close to 2,000 IPL runs under his belt, Duminy has to be one of the smartest buys for Mumbai Indians this season. Besides providing stability to the middle-order, the South African also provides the option of an extra bowler and has 23 wickets from 77 IPL games so far.

PAST RECORD:

2008 — Fifth

2009 — Seventh

2010 — Runners-up

2011 — Qualifier 2

2012 — Eliminator

2013 — Champions

2014 — Eliminator

2015 — Champions

2016 — Fifth

2017 — Champions