It is one of the two IPL outfits to have won the title thrice. On paper, it continues to be a balanced team.
If Mumbai Indians is to overcome the disappointment of not making the cut for the Playoffs last season, it will have to shed the tag of a slow starter and fire from early on.
After making it to the Playoffs for six straight seasons from 2010, MI has been inconsistent for the last three.
Despite winning its third title in 2017, either side of the successful season has seen the team winding up its campaign in the league stage.
Two key reasons
Two key reasons for MI failing to fire in the recent past have been the inability to win the crunch moments — it lost as many as six matches in the last over in 2018 —and no certainty over Rohit’s batting position.
Despite his phenomenal success at the top of the order in India colours, an unstable batting order has meant Rohit hasn’t opened consistently in MI Blues.
In the last three seasons, only 15 of his 44 innings were at the top of the order.
With the World Cup looming large, and Mumbai Indians hoping for its proven performers in domestic cricket to come good in the middle-order, Rohit has confirmed that he will open the innings throughout the 2019 season.
It would mean that the ‘Hitman’ will club together along with new signing Quinton de Kock or Evin Lewis. Rohit’s assurance would mean Suryakumar Yadav, who came good at the top midway through the last season, will hold the innings in the middle along with the Pandya brothers.
It would be interesting to see if the team utilises veteran Yuvraj Singh early in the season and also gives him a long rope throughout the season.
The Pandyas, Yuvraj and Kieron Pollard — yet another all-rounder who has been backed to the hilt by the MI ever since he zoomed on the IPL horizon in 2010 — will hold the key in the lower order and may emerge as perfect finishers.
Mumbai Indians could face the toughest test in the bowling department.
It would be interesting to see how the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Lasith Malinga are utilised in the lead-up to the World Cup. The star-studded coaching staff will have a lot to ponder to get the right balance and not let key pacers become exhausted before the mega event.
In the spin department, it would be interesting to see if Mayank Markande, the find of the last season, can avoid second-season blues.
Otherwise, MI will hope for Rahul Chahar, another leggie, or off-spinner Jayant Yadav to share the burden along with Krunal.