Mumbai Indians (MI) will start IPL 2020 as the defending champions. There’s absolutely no doubt that MI are one of the best teams (if not the best) in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Since 2013, they’ve won four IPL titles – with one coming every alternative year (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019). MI have a history of starting slow but they pick up pace like no other team can. They’ve won titles after starting on the worst possible note, losing four out of their first five games.
Hence, the Rohit Sharma-led team is one which has the ability to deliver under pressure and stand up in crunch games. One thing they haven’t done is defend their title successfully and in fact, only in 2014, they made it to the playoffs after winning the title in the previous year. Thus, that will be MI’s biggest challenge. For that, they have a strong squad and there are five players that you need to watch out for in the upcoming season.
Hardik Pandya is making a comeback from injury. The ODI series against South Africa was supposed to be his comeback series but with that cancelled, the IPL is going to test him and his comeback trail starts from the IPL. However, he did prove his fitness in the DY Patil T20 tournament and he looked in sublime touch.
His bowling is untested yet but he looked in fabulous touch in that domestic T20 tournament. The Baroda all-rounder was smoking sixes for fun and even smashed 20 sixes in one of the innings as he scored a 55-ball 158. Last year, Mumbai Indians relied quite a bit on Pandya in the back half of the innings to give them a flourishing finish. He hit 29 sixes in the 2019 season and was even decent with the ball. Pandya will once again be a key player in the MI line-up this time around.
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Quinton de Kock
When Quinton de Kock was traded to Mumbai Indians last year, it was his fourth IPL franchise. Barring 2016 when he scored 445 runs in the season for Delhi, all the other seasons he had blown hot and cold. He had not lived up to expectation. However, things were different last season.
The South African wicket-keeper batsman got the license from the MI team management to attack at the top of the order with Rohit Sharma playing his game at the other end. It brought the best out of him as he topped the batting charts for MI in 2019, scoring 529 runs in the season. Even this year, he’s been in fabulous form and has been South Africa’s best batsman across formats. Given his form and reputation and love for batting at Wankhede, de Kock will be one of the players to watch out for.
It’s been almost a decade since Suryakumar Yadav has been around in the domestic circuit and he’s been playing the IPL since 2012. But it wasn’t until his inclusion in the Mumbai Indians side in 2018 that he could get big opportunities and show his potential. He was with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for four seasons (2014-17) but he batted down the order.
However, ever since Yadav has returned to MI, he has been batting in the top-order. In the last two seasons, the Mumbai batsman has scored 936 runs at an average of 34.67. He’s become a vital member of the playing XI and once he gets going, Yadav can turn on the heat and get substantial scores. Having score 400+ runs in both seasons, Yadav will be striving to continue to good form and inch closer to an India call-up as well.
Trent Boult was one of the surprising trades this season. Delhi Capitals traded him to Mumbai Indians but the New Zealand fast bowler won’t mind too much. He might like bowling at the Wankhede more than Ferozshah Kotla. The left-arm pacer might get some swing in the air and some decent bounce as well.
There may be a selection cloud over his head with the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan in the squad. But on a given day, Boult has the ability to run through a side and if the conditions are in his favour, he could wreak havoc. He has blown hot and cold in the IPL in the past but MI could just be the right team for him and he could get some decent backing from the team management.
For the last few seasons, Mumbai Indians have been unearthing some brilliant Indian spinners. Rahul Chahar is the latest addition and he was a big part of MI’s success last season. He had made his IPL debut in 2017 with Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) but it was only with MI that he shot into the limelight.
It was a surprise when Chahar started ahead of Mayank Markande last season. The latter was very good in 2018 but MI backed Chahar to come good and he didn’t disappoint. The Rajasthan leg-spinner picked up 13 wickets from as many games and had an economy of 6.55 in the 2019 season. He became a regular in India ‘A’ after that season and even made his T20I debut for India. Thus, there will be a lot of spotlight on him this year.