Mumbai Indians, the defending champions, go into IPL 2020 as the most well-balanced unit with no major loopholes visible in their line-up. They had a more or less settled team going into the auctions in December but will be mightily pleased with their two big purchases of Chriss Lynn and Nathan Coulter-Nile, both aggressive players who can be slotted into the XI in case of an injury. Saurabh Tiwary too was snapped up at his base price of INR 50 lakh, while Mohsin Khan and Digvijay Deshmukh add strength to an already heavy pace department. Prince Balwant Rai was the all-rounder to be picked up.
If all players are available and fit, here is how the side should line up for their inaugural game in IPL 2020.
MI predicted playing XI:
Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Nathan Coulter-Nile/Trent Boult, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah
Rohit Sharma: The skipper, a regular opener for India, had a stellar 2019 in the international circuit, and he will go into the thirteenth edition of the league, high on confidence. The player finally became a regular opener for the franchise in 2019 after plying his trade lower down the order in the last few years. One of the most successful T20 batters, Rohit might have mediocre numbers in the league, but there is no denying his skills – either as a leader of the pack or as an out-an-out entertainer at the top.
Quinton de Kock: The South African was traded to Mumbai Indians from Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2019, and it proved to be a masterstroke as the keeper amassed 529 runs at a strike rate of 133. His presence at the top provides the team with the crucial left hand-right hand combination as well, and the team is likely to continue with the pair of de Kock and Rohit, at least in the first few games. If the former is unable to replicate his feats, Chris Lynn can be considered as the replacement.
Ishan Kishan: Kishan was a revelation in IPL 2018 where he amassed 275 runs at a strike rate of nearing 150. He got limited chances the following season, playing just seven games with a high score of 28, but considering his exploits in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he played crucial cameos for his side, Kishan might just be slotted in at the crucial number three slot again.
Suryakumar Yadav: The Mumbai local has been in scintillating form of late and is touted to make his India debut soon as well. Yadav has done exceedingly well for the franchise thus far, scoring more than 400 runs in each season that he has been associated with the Mumbai side. With an explosive strike rate and the ability to play anywhere in the order, Yadav offers the team with a plethora of options. His improvisations, his ability to attack the spinners and his recent form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he scored 392 runs with a strike rate of 168.96 and ended the tournament as the third highest run-getter, shows how crucial he will be to Mumbai’s plans in 2020.
Keiron Pollard: The West Indian had a disastrous season in 2018 but was backed constantly by the team in the following season, and little did he disappoint, scoring important runs in pressure games and taking his team over the line. Pollard looked in ominous form in the recent T20I series between Windies and India as well, and the mainstay will be eager to raise his hands up once again for the side.
Krunal Pandya: The elder Pandya brother is often used as a floater and will have the role of finishing off the innings along with Pollard and Hardik Pandya. Beside his aggressive batting, Krunal has also made waves with his left-arm orthodox bowling making life miserable for the rivals. Playing crucial roles in pressure games, Krunal has emerged as an unlikely match-winner in both departments, and for a team with not much spin depth, Krunal’s form is all the more vital.
Hardik Pandya: Hardik emerged on the horizon as a bits-and-pieces cricketer, but has gone on to reinvent himself as a serious talent with both bat and ball. He had his most successful tournament last year, finishing with a batting strike rate of 191.42, second only behind Andre Russell, and managed more than 400 runs as well. He was on fire with the ball as well, picking up 14 wickets with his seam bowling. No target looked too steep for the Mumbai side last year as Hardik ripped apart the bowlers batting down the order, and it would be fair to say that he played a big hand in his team’s march to the trophy in 2019. Pandya missed a major part of 2019 due to injury, and will be eager for a strong comeback.
Rahul Chahar: The 20-year old made his debut for the side last year and straightaway left his mark with 13 wickets. He gave away runs at an economy rate of less than 7, which was a huge feat considering that he played most of his games on the batting friendly wickets at the Wankhede Stadium. The wrist-spinner in the team will be the attacking spinner in the middle overs for the side.
Nathan Coulter-Nile/Trent Boult: The costliest buy for Mumbai Indians in the recent IPL auctions, Coulter-Nile has made it a habit of picking up wickets at the death, and he will have to fight it out for a place in the XI with Trent Boult. The Kiwi speedster did not have a successful 2019 IPL season with Delhi Capitals, leaking runs at the death, but he has plenty of experience under his belt. Both Coulter-Nile and Boult are tearaway quicks who will fancy bowling at the Wankhede, and it will all boil down to the form the two exhibit in the preceding games before the IPL.
Lasith Malinga: Despite years catching up on Malinga, he is one of the must-haves in the unit. Though the Sri Lankan was overshadowed by Jasprit Bumrah last year, when he was called upon to bowl a tight over in the finals against Chennai Super Kings, Malinga rose to the occasion and took his team over the line in a close one-run win. His yorkers are still deadly, and on his day, he can be a beast.
Jasprit Bumrah: Without a doubt the best bowler in the world currently, the Indian is Mumbai’s go-to bowler in any situation. With his pin-point yorkers, wicket-taking abilities and the skill to stall the run flow, Bumrah is tough to play against, and his four overs will once again be crucial.