Mumbai have always had a formidable team, but have only won the IPL twice. In fact, their bowling has been one of the best, but it's their batting that has often disappointed them. After winning the trophy in 2015, they could win only seven games and finished fifth on the table in the 2016 edition. During the recently concluded auction, MI made a few sensible calls by roping in leggie Karn Sharma, Lankan all-rounder Asela Gunaratne and former Aussie pacer Mitchell Johnson. With firepower in almost all the departments, MI look in fine shape going into the 10th edition of the IPL. However, it will be interesting to see how the new coach in Mahela Jayawardene will handle the pressure and manage the high-profile egos of marquee cricketers in the Mumbai camp.
Mumbai have arguably the best bowling attack in the competition along with the Kolkata Knight Riders. From pace to spin, there is variety and depth. Although Kiwi pacer Tim Southee had suffered a minor tear, the likes of Lasith Malinga and Mitch Johnson are more than capable of winning games on their own. On the Indian front, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Vinay Kumar will provide more formidability. As far as the spinners are concerned, Harbhajan Singh will partner Karn Sharma. However, the likes of Krunal Pandya, Jagdeesh Suchith and Krishnappa Gowtham too can be useful. Above all, Mumbai are blessed to have an attack for all conditions and situations.
Big hitting all-rounders have always been Mumbai's strength. With Jos Butler, Kieron Pollard, H Pandya and Gunaratne, MI will fancy chasing or setting any score. All these players can tonk the ball long and win matches on their own. Furthermore, they can also be used as floaters in the batting order. Given that the Wankhede does not have big dimensions, expect some lusty blows from the Mumbai finishers.
While the Mumbai Indians don't have any apparent weakness in their line-up, the drop in form of Pollard will be a matter of concern. The Trinidadian hasn't been in the best of form with the willow and has not been winning games for his respective franchises across several T20 leagues. Also, skipper Rohit, who is coming back from an injury would be a little nervous to begin. He is going to be a vital figure at the top and MI will be hoping for the flamboyant batsman to fire on all cylinders sooner than later.
The Mumbai Indians are one of the few teams who utilise their home advantage to the fullest. Besides the conditions, credit also has to go to the MI fans for intensely supporting their team. In the process, the players feed off the crowd's energy and channelise into their game. For the record: MI won 4 games & lost 1 in 2014. Won 4 & lost 3 in 2015 and in 2016, they won 3 and lost 4.
Ambati Rayudu-Saurabh Tiwary partnership
Saurabh Tiwary is back to where he found fame initially in the IPL. After a disappointing time with Delhi, Pune and Bangalore, he is back into the MI team and going by his past performances, it wouldn't be a surprise if he comes up with another massive contribution.
The Rayudu-Tiwary partnership was instrumental in helping Mumbai reach the finals of the 2010 edition. The duo piled on 113 run partnership in the opening game vs RR, 73 vs DD, 65 v DC, 67 v RCB. Throughout the tournament, Tiwary hit 3 fifties and 1 thirty. On the other hand, Rayudu hit 1 fifty and 4 thirties.
With a well-balanced squad, MI have covered all the areas possible. From match winning bowlers to batsmen, they have the liberty of rotating their players too. However, with a high-profile support staff, they could once again fall into the trap of too many cooks spoil the broth. Rohit's captaincy too could come under the gun, given how he could get sucked into the pressure from the MI management. But be that as it may, the 2013 & 2015 champions have all the ammunition to make the playoffs in 2017.