So, the IPL is returning! Sure enough, the experience won’t be the same what with all the empty stands, and the safety procedures, and the tournament not even being held inside the country. But the cricket promises to stay just as entertaining and absorbing.
Since the IPL will soon be back, it is time for some analysis of the teams! So why not start with the defending champions?
The Mumbai Indians have undoubtedly been the most successful team in the IPL. They have both the highest no. of titles, and the highest no of wins. The reasons could be plenty. Their supportive management, their scouting system, their strong core and their fans’ unwavering support are some of them.
In recent times, there has been no IPL where Mumbai Indians haven’t started out as one of the favourites for the title, and this year is no different. They have a solid side, with their fiery pace attack standing out as the league’s undisputed best. Plus, they have their regular core consisting of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, and Jasprit Bumrah as frontmen, and the likes of Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya in the back end.
Expected Starting XI –
- Rohit Sharma (c)
- Quinton De Kock*(wk)
- Suryakumar Yadav
- Ishan Kishan
- Hardik Pandya
- Kieron Pollard*
- Krunal Pandya
- Nathan Coulter-Nile*
- Rahul Chahar
- Trent Boult*
- Jasprit Bumrah
Name one person who can look at this lineup and say that it isn’t worthy of the champions. Even more impressive than the lineup is the bench, where they have players like Chris Lynn, Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan just warming the bleachers. Even more commendable is that all these players are direct replacements for one of the starters. Lynn can come in if De Kock is out of form. McClenaghan could come in for Coulter-Nile, and Malinga could come in for Trent Boult.
As I have mentioned earlier, the pace department looks stacked. Bumrah, Boult and Coulter-Nile will ensure that the opponents don;t have a good time in the powerplay and the death overs. But the middle overs seem to be a concern. MI have only 1 out-and-out spinner in their ranks in Rahul Chahar, and he too is severely inexperienced. The 2nd spinner they have is Krunal Pandya, who is a part-timer and can only give them 2 overs or so. This weakness may come in to bite them, since the tournament will be played in the UAE and the pitches there are extremely slow and offer more turn than bounce, making them extremely spinner-friendly.
As for the batting department, MI do look strong there, but not exceptional. The opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Quinton De Kock or Chris Lynn is easily one of the best in the league, but their middle order seems to be a problem. Suryakumar Yadav or SKY, has been performing exceedingly well in the last two seasons of the IPL, but he still hasn’t completely gained the trust that a No.3 should. Next on the roster is Ishan Kishan, who came to the scene as India’s most promising youngster, but has since slowed down a bit. His all-out aggressive style looks amazing when it works (Like the 62 against KKR in 2018), but is less impactful when it fails. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be the norm with him.
When you go further down the lineup, the spark starts to come back. Hardik Pandya can easily be regarded as one of the best finishers and all-rounders in the game. His hiatus before the lockdown may affect his play, but then again the lockdown affected every player, so they are all in the same boat now. Kieron Pollard does exhibit flashes of brilliance sometimes, but statistics prove that he’s been more of a liability than an asset for the Mumbai contingent in recent years. Before an insurgent 2019, he had an average of 18.58 from 2016 to 2018. But he does bring a lot to the camp in terms of leadership and mentorship. In the Netflix documentary, ‘Cricket Fever’ about the Mumbai Indians’ 2018 season, it is apparent that Pollard takes up the role of the mentor and the leader of the team. Maybe that is what motivates the team and enables them to play as well as they do.
Overall, the MI team looks electrifying, and are front runners for the title once again. But if I had to make a prediction, I’d say that they will qualify for the playoffs but fall short of winning the title. Their spin and middle order weaknesses will probably prove to be their downfall. Thats all for MI’s preview! Stay tuned for previews of all the other teams too!
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