Following a campaign of massive disappointment last season, the conjecture for the Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai team for the upcoming Indian T20 League season will be to finish in the top four once again. After all, this team has tyrannized the tournament by conquering three titles in past six years.
Mumbai looked completely off-track last season, especially during the crunch ties. Hence, addressing the hitch was their primary concern as the operational team went into the auction back in December. They knew the blueprint and they worked accordingly. Following the release of some of their overseas bowlers, the equilibrium was sustained by retaining the core members and acquiring much-needed pace.
As many as six players were bought with an idea of preserving the balance, hence the team is sure to step with sure shot optimism with an objective of keeping their ghost of the past at bay.
That being said, here we dive into Mumbai’s squad analysis and look what might prove out to be that X factor for them this season.
To say Mumbai’s strength lies in their core would be an understatement to make. Unlike other franchises, the team doesn’t usually rely heavily on foreign players. Rather, their performances are largely affected by the likes of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Jaspreet Bumrah; The Core!
Furthermore, the signing of Quinton de Kock has only made their starting line fierier. Though there remains this conundrum of the opening pair, the South African's addition may solve the batting issues the team faced last season.
For a decent finishing touch, the decision of retaining Hardik Pandya and Ben Cutting might bear fruit.
The bowling unit, on the other hand, has always been Mumbai's might, and the return of an experienced campaigner in Lasith Malinga – who will play the dual role of player and mentor - is sure to give the team an extra direction. Not to forget the damage Jasprit Bumrah will bring alongside Mitchell McClenaghan.
What Mumbai lacked last season was consistency. On paper, the team is perfectly poised, comprising of explosive openers followed by hard hitting middle order and all-rounders. The concern though remains their extreme fickleness and inability of getting numbers in tight situations.
Captain Rohit Sharma, who experienced his worst season last campaign, will have to shift a gear this year as he will be looked upon by a relatively young bloods in Anmolpreet Singh and Ishan Kishan.
As far as experience goes, they sure have Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard down the order, but the duo’s return in recent years have let them down a big time. Pollard, in particular, didn't bowl throughout the 2018 campaign and averaged less than 20 with the bat. Yuvraj, on his part, has failed to cross the 300-run mark since 2014.
Above all, the scarcity in spin bowling remains a hinderance, as apart from Krunal Pandya and Mayank Markande, the team lack quality spinners. The latter had a decent start last year but was exposed as the tournament entered its business end. And as we speak of the depth, Rahul Chahar remains a bright prospect, but the fact remains he only has 3 Indian T20 League matches in his resume.
The X-factor: Quinton de Kock
Those who followed last year’s auction might remember the bidding war between Bangalore and Mumbai for Quinton de Kock. It was the former who had the last laugh, but the South African has eventually been roped into the side by the Mumbai hierarchy for the upcoming season.
Acquiring de Kock might very well solve Mumbai’s middle-over crisis and given the form he is currently in (83, 81, 94 and 121 in last four ODIs), he might prove out to be that much-needed trump card. De Kock can be utilized from anywhere between the opening pair to the middle order; depending on the intensity of the situation. And if they tend to comply the left-right combination, a partnership with Suryakumar Yadav, who was arguably the best batsman for Mumbai last season, may bear fruits.
Mumbai did a decent job as far as the auction went by solving their middle-order crises. However, the fact remains that even big names have been quite inconsistent. On their day, a Mumbai unit might wreak havoc, but when not in form, they remain vulnerable as ever. And the lack of quality spinners might bring the world against them. Due to the following reasons, we predict the Mumbai paltan to narrowly miss out on Top Four.
But at the same time, their pace attack is well and truly capable of turning the tide, with Jasprit Bumrah being at the epitome of it followed by Mitchell McClenaghan. The team seems like a balanced unit but, but the bitter condour is, so are others. And maybe, as we believe, winning the fourth Indian T20 League title will remain a distant reality for the team this year.
Retained: Rohit Sharma (C), Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Anukul Roy, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Quinton de Kock, Evin Lewis, Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Jason Behrendorff
Released: Saurabh Tiwary, Pradeep Sangwan, Mohsin Khan, MD Nidheesh, Sharad Lumba, Tajinder Singh Dhillon, JP Duminy, Pat Cummins, Mustafizur Rahman, Akila Dananjaya
Traded: Quinton de Kock from Bangalore
Lasith Malinga – Rs 2 crore
Anmolpreet Singh – Rs 80 lakh
Barinder Sran – Rs 3.40 crore
Pankaj Jaiswal – Rs 20 lakh
Rasikh Salam – Rs 20 lakh
Yuvraj Singh – Rs 1 crore