2013 was the best for Mumbai Indians (MI). They not only won the IPL but also went onto win the Champions League too and gave a fitting farewell to Sachin Tendulkar.
The result of this year’s auctions might have left many MI fans puzzled - they didn’t retain the successful opener Dwayne Smith or the bowler of the season Mitchell Johnson or the dangerous Dinesh Karthik.
They even let off 'million dollar baby' Glenn Maxwell though they never utilised him particularly well. There were a couple of good buys for them in this year’s auction in Michael Hussey, Corey Anderson and Zaheer Khan but I believe both Hussey and Zaheer have already played their best cricket.
The history of the Mumbai Indians in the IPL has been a mixed bag; twice failing to progress from the group stages, twice falling in the knockout stages and twice been in the finals (winning one of them in 2013).
Last year they were well led by Rohit Sharma and were well supported by Kieron Pollard and Harbhajan Singh. This year too MI will rely on those players and of course on the best T20 fast bowler in the world - Lasith Malinga.
Having a bowler like Malinga is always a huge advantage for the team as he can bowl at any stage of the game and has been a genuine wicket-taker for the team. The bowling department looks quite good at the moment with the likes of Zaheer, Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha being in the team.
Krishmar Santokie is a very cleaver operator and may prove to be a good buy for them and so is the addition of Josh Hazlewood in the squad. But one may point at the fact that Indian trio of Zaheer, Harbhajan and Ojha are no longer a part of India’s T20I squad and may not be as effective as they were a couple of years back but MI will definitely back them to bowl well for them.
Without any doubt the bowling department will be led by Malinga and Harbhajan, at this point of time they should not worry much about their bowling.
The team will once again look up to Sharma to bat well and he along with Hussey and Ambati Rayudu will form the core of MI’s batting lineup. They will be followed by power hitters in the likes of Pollard and Corey Anderson; Harbhajan Singh can play couple of cameos too at the later stages of the game.
There are still some problem areas in this batting line-up like who will open with Hussey or who will join Rohit and Rayudu in the middle order? These are the spots which are up for grabs and will see local talents filling up the void.
This season I have a strong feeling that they might unearth some young Indian talents and if they find capable players for those slots, MI will reach the knockout stages for sure.
This is a squad which won the IPL last season but many might not back them to win this year, it will be really interesting to see how the defending champions progresses in this year’s IPL.
© Cricket World 2014