Mumbai seek strong start

Mumbai seek strong start

One of most glamorous and popular teams of the cash-rich league, Mumbai Indians are the only team along with the now-suspended Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders to have won the T20 title on two occasions. Hyderabad also have won twice but the first of their titles came when they were known as Deccan Chargers.

With a jumbo support staff of former greats and superstar T20 players in their ranks, Mumbai have managed to match their glitziness with on-field performances. For all their star power, however, Mumbai have tendency to lose steam without as much of a sign as was seen the previous season when they failed to make the play-off cut, finishing fifth in the eight-team league. Generally slow starters, Mumbai wouldn’t want to leave it too late to be in the late scramble.

Having retained the core of their team – 20 players – Mumbai made some smart buys this auction picking both local and international players to plug the gaps, if any. Skipper Rohit Sharma remains their biggest trump card but he is yet to play any competitive match after a lengthy injury lay-off. But then, Mumbai have a wealth of batting talent in Ambati Rayudu, Parthiv Patel, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons among others. They also have a collection of talented all-rounders in Pandya brothers – Krunal and Hardik, Karn Sharma, who was acquired for Rs 3.2 crore this auction and K Gowtham. The last two more of bowling all-rounders but can be devastating with the bat on their day.

Lasith Malinga may have lost some of his sharpness but he remains Mumbai’s biggest bowling weapon, forming potent attack along with Jasprit Bumrah, Harbhajan Singh, Krunal and Hardik. Mumbai also have the option of including the likes of pacemen Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell McClenaghan depending upon their combination and requirements.

The squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Kieron Pollard, Parthiv Patel (wk), Ambati Rayudu, Lasith Malinga, Tim Southee, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Shreyas Gopal, Vinay Kumar, Siddesh Lad, Krunal Pandya, Krishnappa Gowtham, Karn Sharma, Mitchell Johnson, Nicholas Pooran (wk), J Suchith, Lendl Simmons, Nitish Rana, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Jitesh Sharma and Deepak Punia.

Past performances: 2016: Fifth; 2015: Champions; 2014: Fourth; 2013: Champions; 2012: Third; 2011: Third; 2010: Runners-up; 2009: Seventh; 2008: Fifth.

 

STAR WATCH

Krunal Pandya: The left-arm spinning all-rounder was a revelation for Mumbai Indians the last around with useful knocks lower down and crucial breakthroughs. With 237 runs for the tournament, he was Mumbai’s fourth highest run-getter and more importantly those runs came at a strike rate of 191.12. Mumbai will be banking upon him for an encore.

Rohit Sharma: The skipper is coming off lengthy break due to injury and there will be some rustiness but he is a game-changer once he gets into his rhythm. He has been Mumbai’s most consistent performer with the bat for quite a few years now and it’s crucial that the right-hander hits form early in the season to build momentum.     

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