IPL 2017: Mumbai Indians Preview

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The Mumbai Indians are by far one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the competition. Every year they compete to the best of their ability and they have some of the best limited overs players in the world in the side. While they had a frustrating season last year, they are in a great position to make amends this season.

IPL 2017: Mumbai Indians Preview

Last Season

The Mumbai Indians fell tantalisingly short of qualifying for the knockout stages last season, as they finished fifth – an agonising two points short of the Kolkata Knight Riders in fourth place. This was the first time that the Mumbai Indians hadn’t progressed from the groups since 2009, showing how consistent a side they usually are.

With the disbanding of the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals, the Mumbai Indians are the joint most successful team in the competition, having won the tournament twice. Captain Rohit Sharma carried the team for most of last season, as he scored an impressive 489 runs at an average of around 45. He didn’t have too much support from the rest of his side, but Ambati Rayudu did provide several handy contributions throughout their campaign, as he accumulated over 300 runs.

The seamers did most of the damage with the ball, as Mitchell McClenaghan and Jaspirit Bumrah took 32 wickets between them. While McClenaghan did take more wickets, he was much more expensive in terms of his economy.

IPL Auction

It is hard to find an obvious weakness in the Mumbai Indians side and so they did not have one certain area of the team they needed to strengthen in the IPL Auction. They bought a balance of players, with a slight emphasis on their batting. However, their most expensive signings were bowlers. They paid an expensive 3.2 crore for Indian leg-spinner Karn Sharma and just 2 crore for explosive Australian seamer Mitchell Johnson. While the Mumbai Indians spinners are not particularly strong, it was a bizarre move on their behalf to sign Sharma for that high a price, while the number one T20 spinner in the world, Imran Tahir, went unsold. Moreover, Karn Sharma’s IPL record is not great, while Tahir always picks up wickets.

The rest of their signings were primarily batsmen, including young West Indian keeper Nicholas Pooran. However, the Mumbai Indians paid 2 crore for Krishnappa Gowtham an Indian all-rounder who has only played 20 domestic T20 matches. The 28-year-old entered the auction at the lowest base price of 10 lakh, but he was in high demand. They certainly have a lot of faith in Gowtham, as they have paid a vast sum for a hugely inexperienced player. It will be interesting to see how he fares this season.

Batting Unit

After a disappointing 2016 IPL season, Jos Buttler will be hoping for improvements this year (Photo: Getty Images)

Rohit Sharma and Parthiv Patel opened the batting for most of last season, until Martin Guptill was drafted in for the last few games of their campaign. However, now that Guptill has been released, it is almost certain that Parthiv will be the first choice to open with their captain. This will be a very important IPL campaign for Rohit Sharma as it is proper return to cricket after his leg injury. Sharma last played a match for India in October 2016 and only made his List A comeback earlier this month. In the two matches he has played for Mumbai after injury, he has only managed scores of 4 and 16.

Parthiv Patel, though, is experiencing a great run of form. In the Test series against England, Patel earned a call-up back to the Indian national side, after Wriddhiman Saha was ruled out through injury. Parthiv scored 195 runs in the two Tests he played, at an average of 65. After such a great performance, it was disappointing to see Unmukt Chand favoured for the Indian opening slot when Murali Vijay was injured.

The Mumbai Indians middle order contains some of the most explosive players in limited overs cricket. Ambati Rayudu, Krunal Pandya and Jos Buttler are in-line to make up the bulk of the Mumbai Indians batting. As mentioned earlier, Rayudu had a prolific last season, but he is definitely less explosive than the other Mumbai batsmen. Rayudu scored his runs at a strike rate of around 120, which was the lowest out of the batsmen with the top 30 most runs in the 2016 IPL. However, this is undoubtedly his role in the side as he usually builds a platform form Pandya and Buttler to expand on.

Before last year’s tournament, Krunal Pandya was not an experienced greater, but the Mumbai Indians bid a huge 2 crore for him in the 2016 IPL Auction. As a result, there was a great pressure on him to deliver, and he certainly made a lasting impression. Pandya, whose brother Hardik also features in the Mumbai side, ended the tournament with the highest strike rate in the competition. He scored his 237 runs at a phenomenal strike rate of over 190, averaging near to 40. He carried this form into the domestic limited overs season, in which he has produced some top performances with the bat. Recently he put in a man of the match performance for Baroda against Assam, where he hit a solid 72 and went on to take 4 wickets with the ball. If he continues in this fashion for the upcoming season, he could really bolster Mumbai’s title hopes.

England international Jos Buttler is one of the most exciting players in world cricket at the moment. His career T20 strike rate of 147 supports this claim as he plays an exceptionally aggressive brand of cricket. Unfortunately, last season we were not able to see the best of Buttler as he was rather inconsistent. He averaged just over 23 and his recent form for England has been atrocious. He hasn’t made a score above fifty for England since October 2016, despite playing series against India and the West Indies. It has been a disastrous few months for Buttler and now is the perfect time for him to turn it around.

Bowling Attack

Johnson has been destructive but expensive in his IPL career to date (Photo: Getty Images)

Now with both Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell McClenaghan in their side, the Mumbai Indians seam attack is one of the best in the tournament. Mitchell Johnson, who was released from the Kings XI Punjab squad, had a great Big Bash League run in which he made history with his spell of 3-3 in the semi-final against the Melbourne Stars. The fact that he has retired from international cricket has not hindered his performances, as he is still as passionate and aggressive when he plays now. However, the combination of both Mitchells may be slightly problematic at times. They are both exceptionally fast which means that when they bowl a loose delivery they are prone to being punished emphatically. This can be seen in Johnson’s last IPL season, in which he went at an economy rate of over 9.6. Yet, if these two bowlers both find form at the same time, they are capable of tearing apart any side.

Their spin attack is weaker than their seam attack, but their spin department will be led by Harbhajan Singh again this year. Harbhajan is one of the most experienced spinners in world cricket, having taken over 400 Test wickets for India. His 2016 season was average, only contributing 9 wickets with an economy rate of 8. Krunal Pandya will also be bowling spin for the Mumbai Indians as he his a handy all-rounder. It is unlikely that they will play another specialist spinner in their side, but if they do, they will probably opt for new signing Karn Sharma. He could potentially replace Hardik Pandya in the starting XI, but that would only be if the pitch heavily favours the spinners.

Overall Chances

The Mumbai Indians are set to progress from the group stages this year and make amends for the agony of last season. They are one of the most exciting sides to watch in the tournament, as their squad boasts the most aggressive players in the world. It will be a shock if they don’t make it out of the group stages, but it will be a tough ask for them to go on to win the overall competition.

Predicted XI

  1. Rohit Sharma (C)
  2. Parthiv Patel (wk)
  3. Ambati Rayudu
  4. Krunal Pandya
  5. Jos Buttler
  6. Kieron Pollard
  7. Hardik Pandya / Karn Sharma
  8. Harbhajan Singh
  9. Mitchell Johnson
  10. Mitchell McClenaghan
  11. Jaspirit Bumrah