Fans of Mumbai Indians will be a bit tense this year; anyone would if the highlight is the players who have been allowed to go rather than those that have come in. Among their key strengths in a stunningly successful campaign were Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik and Mitchell Johnson. They have all gone, as has the talismanic Tendulkar, and MI have been unable to retain Glenn Maxwell who, I believe, is about to peak as a T20 star. The retentions will be under pressure to prove themselves, especially Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha for whom they used the right to match card.
So who has come in? It is a big show of faith in two veterans, Michael Hussey and Zaheer Khan and another who has played very little cricket on the sub-continent, Corey Anderson. Luckily both Anderson, and regular Kieron Pollard, have come out of injuries in time because without them the balance of the side gets demolished. The other plus is that Malinga is in tremendous form and he is a game-changer.
The first eleven for the Mumbai Indians is fine, as it is for most teams and it could well look like this:
Hussey, Tare, Rohit Sharma, Rayudu, Pollard, Anderson, Gautam / Jalaj Saxena, Harbhajan, Malinga, Zaheer, Ojha.
You will immediately see the absence of another Indian batsman. As back up they have Sushant Marathe and Jalaj Saxena. You don’t want Rayudu or Rohit to get injured or get out of form. There is back up in the bowling: Bumrah for Zaheer, Hazlewood, de Lange and Santokie for Malinga and Ben Dunk can come in for Hussey. But you can see already that there is very little flexibility with the batting.
Harbhajan and Ojha are fine bowlers but both slightly unsettled in life at the moment and if Rohit Sharma can get the best out of them, it will go a long way in retaining the title. But it will be a tense season for the fans!