The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) gets underway in less than 10 days and like every season, all eyes will once again be on defending champions Mumbai Indians.
The five-time IPL champions once again have a settled look to their squad and will be the team to beat as the cash-rich league returns home after being held in the UAE last season. The dominance of the franchise can be seen from the fact that they defeated one of the best teams (Delhi Capitals) last year in the final without breaking a sweat.
Over the past few years, the Rohit Sharma-led side has almost worn an invincible look thanks to their solid core and impeccable consistency. The MI nucleus doesn't just revolve around skipper Rohit, but also has some quality performers in Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, and Kieron Pollard.
It is safe to say that this franchise does not overly depend on its foreign players as the homegrown talent is so well equipped that they themselves can change the course of a match within minutes.
While they hardly tinker with the core unit, they did add the likes of Arjun Tendulkar, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Milne, James Neesham, Yudhvir Charak, and Macro Jensen to their squad during the mini auction in February.
Even though the Mumbai-based franchise has won the title on five occasions -- 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020 -- the side is yet to make it three consecutive titles in a row and that would definitely be added motivation for Rohit's boys.
The biggest strength of the franchise is the Indian players. The playing XI will definitely feature India's dependable players -- Rohit, Hardik, Suryakumar, Krunal, and Bumrah. Add Ishan Kishan into the mix and the side may very well do without a big foreign star in the top-order.
South Africa's limited-overs skipper Quinton de Kock is most likely to open the batting, and having Chris Lynn as the backup will further cause headaches in the rival camp. Kieron Pollard has been in impeccable form, displaying his big-hitting capability in every possible outing and under his leadership, West Indies recently won the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka.
Talking about the bowling scheme of things, it will once again be on Bumrah to lead the attack and he formed a lethal pair with Trent Boult in UAE. The team management would expect the same heroics this season as well.
Australia quick Nathan Coulter-Nile has been added to the line-up and he could be an option if Boult has off-days with the ball. The Indian pitches are expected to offer spin going ahead in the tournament and this is the one area in which the franchise lacks slightly.
Rahul Chahar, Piyush Chawla, and Krunal Pandya are the three weapons that Rohit has and while they can hold ends up, can they attack and turn games with wicket-taking spells? That is a question only time will answer. The other spin options are Jayant Yadav and Anukul Roy, but it is safe to say that these two would not be featuring in the playing XI in the first few games.
The IPL 2021 is slated to begin on April 9 with Mumbai Indians locking horns against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the tournament opener in Chennai.
Mumbai Indians squad: Rohit Sharma, Aditya Tare, Anukul Roy, Anmolpreet Singh, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Mohsin Khan, Quinton de Kock, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Jimmy Neesham, Yudhvir Charak, Marco Jansen, Arjun Tendulkar.
( With inputs from ANI )
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