IPL 2019 MI Preview: Backed by big hitters, Mumbai Indians need to get rid of escape act habithttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/ipl/mumbai-indians-mi-preview-squad-strength-weakness-5632145/

IPL 2019 MI Preview: Backed by big hitters, Mumbai Indians need to get rid of escape act habit

Mumbai Indians are the joint most successful team in IPL history (alongside Chennai Super Kings) but they need to shed their habit of late bloomers to make it four titles.

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Rohit Sharma turned 31 on Monday. (Source: PTI)

Under Sachin Tendulkar, the Mumbai Indians reached the final just once in five years. Under Rohit Sharma, they have won the title thrice. The team, which along with Chennai Super Kings has the most IPL titles, is also notorious for getting off to slow starts in the group stage. This has cost them a spot in the playoffs at times, and supporting this team isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Batsmen

Mumbai Indians have a particularly strong batting lineup this season. Captain Rohit Sharma is one of the best in the shortest format. Quinton de Kock has been scoring runs easily in all formats for South Africa of late, although most of his performances have been in home conditions.

Then there are Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers, Hardik and Krunal. Ishan Kishan was on fire in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy, although the IPL will be tougher. Kishan can be expected to play at number three and keep wickets if De Kock is played as a specialist batsman.

Suryakumar Yadav’s consistency last season makes him the favourite ahead of anyone else in the squad to fill the number four slot. It won’t be a surprise if Yuvraj Singh ends up becoming a backup for Suryakumar. Yuvraj hasn’t played too much cricket recently, and his lack of performances for Kings XI Punjab doesn’t help his cause.

Bowlers

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Mumbai won’t have Bangladesh star Mustafizur Rahman this season, but the bowling attack is still one of the strongest. Jasprit Bumrah has, at various points over the last year, been called the best pacer in the world across formats. His efficiency with the new ball and the death overs is dreaded by batsmen.

Mitchell McClenaghan has been a consistent performer and the team will have to choose between Adam Milne and Jason Behrendorff, who made an impression during the India-Australia ODI series.

Mayank Markande’s impressive performances in the Ranji Trophy earned him a national call-up and he seems likely to make it to the starting XI. A rejuvenated Lasith Malinga is making a comeback, and only sharpens the Mumbai attack further.

Strengths

The core of the Mumbai team is made up of Indian players, many of whom are regulars in international cricket. This allows the team to be flexible with playing foreign players.The team also has multiple players who can be called “match-winners”.

Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah are all players who have proven that they can be depended upon if the team needs big guns in the last over to win the match – with bat or ball.

Weaknesses

Indian captain Virat Kohli’s warning about his players needing to manage their game time this year could affect Bumrah and Pandya. If India are to go all the way in the World Cup this year, a fully fit Bumrah is of paramount importance. It means that at some point, Mumbai will have to think of a backup for him, but Bumrah has big boots to fill.

Barinder Sran, bought for Rs 3.2 crore, could be a replacement, but Bumrah’s absence will hurt Mumbai. Hardik Pandya has been struggling with injury since the 2018 Asia Cup and could not play in the recent series against Australia. In his absence, the balance of the Indian team has gone awry and the Mumbai Indians might have to do without him at some point of the season.

Why they need to be watched

The Mumbai Indians won their first title in 2013. They then finished fourth, won again in 2015, finished fifth in 2016 and won a third time in 2017. Last season, they finished fifth and so fans can’t be blamed for thinking this could be their year again.

Opening match: vs Delhi Capitals; 8pm, March 24

Mumbai Indians squad: Rohit Sharma(c), Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Anmolpreet Singh, Aditya Tare, Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Quinton de Kock, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Pankaj Jaiswal, Anukul Roy, Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Jason Behrendorff, Barinder Sran, Rasikh Salam, Jayant Yadav