IPL preview: Mumbai Indians

Following a poor start in the first two editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the costliest team out of the eight initial franchises have put together five impressive seasons.Mumbai finished runners-up in 2010 and have enjoyed playoff campaigns in each of the next four years, including a title-winning run in 2013.They’ve also won two Champions League T20 titles to announce themselves to the world as being one of the best Twenty20 sides, and now they will enter the 2015 edition with a new coach in the form of Australian legend Ricky Ponting.
Ponting replaces former New Zealand and India coach John Wright – who has taken over the role of Youth Development and Talent Scout – and the Australian will also have another newbie for company in the form of new bowling coach Shane Bond.
The Rohit Sharma-led side retained some of their big names from previous seasons in auction, including Indians Ambati Rayudu and Harbhajan Singh and overseas players Corey Anderson, Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard.
They also have former Champions League T20 winner and Sydney Sixers quick Josh Hazlewood in their squad from last season, who was retained despite not featuring in any game in 2014. Given the World Cup winning form of the tall right-armer, it could well turn out to be an excellent tactical move.
Among those selected in this year’s auction are Australia and Melbourne Renegades T20 captain Aaron Finch, who will be featuring for his fifth IPL side, Sydney Thunder’s Aiden Blizzard and New Zealand’s Mitchell McClenaghan.
Ponting will lead a side that has plenty of experience. Among the Indian players, Rohit, Harbhajan, Rayudu, Parthiv Patel and Pragyan Ojha all have a lot of IPL under their belts, while the likes of Finch, Malinga and Pollard add to it from the overseas group of players.
Their other main strength is the amount of depth that the foreign group adds to the team. In the pace bowling department, Malinga is well-supported by Hazlewood, McClenaghan and Marchant de Lange, while the batting has Finch, Pollard, Anderson, Lendl Simmons and Blizzard who can all hit the ball a fair distance.
In short, they should never run short of options should poor form or injury strike.
While their depth in the overseas batting department isn’t a cause for concern, Mumbai will need to rely on their Indian youngsters to support the likes of Rohit and Rayudu.
With teams needing to select at least seven domestic players in their side, the younger players like Aditya Tare, Unmukt Chand and some of the others selected in this year’s auction will need to come good.
It’s this lack of depth of the local batting that could also push captain Rohit down to the middle-order instead of batting at his favourite opening slot.
Predicted Finish
If the dependence on the inexperienced batsmen in the side can be reduced by some good performances from the more established players, they have the potential to go right up to the final, such is the edge their bowling provides them.
Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Aditya Tare, Harbhajan Singh, Corey Anderson, Josh Hazlewood, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Pawan Suyal, Marchant de Lange, Lendl Simmons, Shreyas Gopal, R Vinay Kumar, Unmukt Chand, Aaron Finch, Parthiv Patel, Mitchell McClenaghan, Pragyan Ojha, Aiden Blizzard, Akshay Wakhare, Siddhesh Lad, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, J Suchith, Abhimanyu Mithun
Coach: Ricky Ponting
Fielding coach: Jonty Rhodes
Bowling coach: Shane Bond
Assistant & batting coach: Robin Singh
Physio: Nitin Patel
Trainer: Paul Chapman
Masseur: Robert Gibson
Video Analyst: CKM Dhananjai
By Suneer Chowdhary


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