Mumbai Indians seem to be losing their charm and don’t look as strong as last year. But, not losing hope in our defending champions, Piyush Bisht keeps his hopes alive in Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma
Performance pressure is always friends with defending champions, and in this IPL season, it is all dressed up to grace Mumbai Indians with that warm privilege.
With some of its key influencers having been replaced with new faces, the Mumbai franchise seems to be carrying a heavier weight on its shoulders.
Skipper Rohit Sharma, all rounder Hardik Pandya, pacer Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya and Windies hero Kieron Pollard are the only remnants of last year’s championship winning side, with Nitish Rana, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu having said their goodbyes to the Mumbai franchise. All three had been instrumental in the team’s successful run last season.
The retention of Pollard and Krunal came through the RTM card and at the cost of hefty sums of Rs 5.4 crore and Rs 8.8 crore respectively. Krunal, an all-rounder who specialises in left-arm spin bowling, has a tally of 480 runs and 16 wickets in the 25 matches he has played in the IPL. Pollard, another all-rounder who has played with Mumbai Indians since his IPL debut in 2010, also has decent statistics to back his performances: 2343 runs and 56 wickets in 123 matches.
Windies’ left-handed opening batsman Evin Lewis, an object of desire during the IPL auctions, was procured by Mumbai Indians for Rs 3.8 crore and will be eager to deliver an attacking edge to the title defenders in his maiden IPL season. Lewis is now a regular opener for West Indies. His T20 career has been punctuated with performances which have been utterly remarkable.
Former India Under-19 Captain Ishan Kishan happens to be the next big catch for Mumbai Indians. The 17-year-old was bought by Gujarat Lions for a sum of Rs 35 lakh back in 2016. In 2017, the Jharkhand wicketkeeper-batsman, who still remains uncapped, had gone on to score a total of 277 runs in 10 innings.
Another uncapped player whose services Mumbai Indians have managed to procure for their title defence this year is Suryakumar Yadav. The right-hand attacking batsman was bought for Rs 3.20 crore, with Kolkata and Delhi being the other top contenders vying for his services.
Lewis, Kishan and Yadav join the batting front of the team, which is composed of Rohit Sharma, South African maestro Jean-Paul Duminy and the Pandya siblings, a batting line-up that makes up for a fearsome unit.
On the bowling front, Mumbai boast of proven names like Jasprit Bumrah, Australian pacer Pat Cummins and Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman.
Bumrah has become an up and coming name owing to the crucial part he has recently played for the national team in all formats. Cummins has appeared to be in fine form during his national duties in South Africa. Add to that Rahman’s blistering energy, and you get an ultimate bowling package which rival batsmen will be wary to face.
Bumrah was retained by the Mumbai Indians in the first ever player retention event in January along with Hardik Pandya. Cummins was bought for Rs 5.4 crore from Delhi Daredevils, while Rahman landed from Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 2.2 crore.
Mumbai’s pace bowling can be their biggest strength this season with the deadly trio of Bumrah, Cummins and Rahman expected to shine. The addition of Mitchell McClenaghan, who replaces Jason Behrendorff, will add to the bowling strength.
Bumrah belted a total of 16 wickets in 20 matches in the previous edition of the competition. Cummins claimed 15 in 12 matches for Delhi Daredevils during the same season while Rahman, who missed the tournament last year, displays a tally of 17 wickets in 16 matches during the 2016 edition with an economy well under seven.
On the batting front, Rohit Sharma is expected to come out all guns blazing, posing trouble for opposition bowlers. Sharma has been a proven force in the IPL with a tally of 4207 runs in 159 matches. Jean-Paul Duminy will be adding to the batting heroics of Sharma with exploits of his own. The South African star’s present tally records a total of 1993 in 77 matches.
The batting line-up, despite boasting of an excellent top order in the form of Rohit Sharma and Duminy, lacks the depth required for a satisfactory finish to an innings. The loss of Ambati Rayudu, Nitish Rana and Parthiv Patel is bound to add pressure upon Pollard once the responsibility falls to the middle order in an innings.
Following the departure of Harbhajan Singh and Karn Sharma, Mumbai lacks quality spinners in their bowling line-up, which may dwindle the chances of the three-time title winners when it comes to dependence on holding the innings through the use of spinners. They will, however, be relying on the services of left-arm slow orthodox Krunal Pandya and Anukul Roy, another left-armer in the squad who also starred in India’s U-19 World Cup winning team along with former Pune spinner Rahul Chahar.
Of the trio, Krunal alone is the most experienced spin-bowler — a fact duly noted by every rival batsman with a comparatively greater experience.
Writer: Piyush Bisht
Courtesy: The Pioneer