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MI Express picks up pace post slow start

Rohit Sharma Mumbai Indians Captain
Rohit Sharma Mumbai Indians Captain

Mumbai Indians are not Usain Bolt. They have never been. They are more like Mo Farah. Their start is always slow, though not as steady.

Despite starting off on the wrong foot, they have a tendency to pull things back, but only after putting tremendous pressure on themselves. However, once they gets into their work, the system is almost on autopilot from thereon.

MI's win against CSK marked their 100th victory in the IPL; the most by any team, CSK being the second best with 93. The stat itself goes to show the consistency and the ability that the team possesses. Especially, ever since Rohit Sharma has taken over the captaincy, their performance has leapfrogged to another level.

Mumbai Indians have always had the players to instill fear in the opposition but have lacked the launchpad to hit the ground running. In comparison to their past record, a win percentage of 50% after their first four matches is unprecedented in recent times.

All-rounder galore

Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya are names that almost all teams would love to have in their playing XI individually, and when all four come as a package, nothing like it. Just think of the balance that these players give to Mumbai Indians, each of them match winners in their own right, when playing together.

Kieron Pollard with his brute force can turn any match around. The ongoing IPL season has not witnessed him in full flow yet but the spectators have seen enough evidence in the past to know that he can be absolutely destructive in the slog overs if he gets his eye in.

Similarly, Ben Cutting provides the team with a lot of flexibility and understandably so. Cutting has not got many chances as yet but he is a good option with the ball with his cutters and variations. He can also bat at almost any position in the batting order, from opening to No 7, which is not something many players can offer.

Then we come to the core of the franchise, the Pandya brothers, who have been on song in recent years and a real force for the Mumbai setup. Hardik has been striking the ball as clean as a whistle and has a strike rate of over 200 after the first four matches. His bowling rhythm also seemed to come back in the encounter against Chennai as he picked up three crucial wickets, not least Thala MS Dhoni. Krunal has done his bit with the bat and has been economical with the ball.

Great mix of Indian and overseas batsmen

Mumbai's opening combination of Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma is one of the best in the tournament as both act as a foil to each other. Apart from the left-right combination, Rohit Sharma likes to take his time in the beginning and then explode in the latter half. This is why the presence of a dasher at the other end becomes essential, so that the team's run rate does not get bogged down.

This is the reason why the combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma is so successful for India in the limited-overs format. Quinton de Kock plays a similar role and goes crash bang wallop in the beginning, while Sharma can then take his time. The duo is yet to reap rich dividends but a great opening partnership is just around the corner.

Additionally, once de Kock departs to South Africa to prepare for the World Cup, Mumbai Indians have Evin Lewis waiting in the wings, who is unlikely to be selected in the Windies World Cup squad.

Apart from Rohit Sharma, the team also has great Indian batting talent. Yuvraj Singh needs no introduction and Suryakumar Yadav has already shown what he is capable of. If and when the team decides to bench Yuvraj, they have an explosive top order batsman in Ishan Kishan ready and raring to go. Siddhesh Lad and Aditya Tare are there other middle order Indian backups.

Rich variety in bowling

It was feared in the beginning that the team does not have sufficient Indian pace bowling talent apart from Jasprit Bumrah, who is an absolute genius. But, with the likes of Barinder Sran and Rasikh Salam, who are yet to prove themselves but are certainly talented individuals, they have plugged that gap as well.

MI also have some serious overseas pace bowling potential with Mitchell McClenaghan, Alzarri Joseph, Jason Behrendorff and Lasith Malinga in the squad. Behrendorff showed in his debut IPL match, the impact a swing bowler like him can have if he can knock down a couple of wickets first up.

Along with Krunal, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar and Anukul Roy provide variety in the spin department.

With all bases covered and ample resources to absorb the shocks of the overseas players' exodus, Mumbai Indians are well placed to take a shot at their fourth IPL title.

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