Well, the wait is almost over folks. The most lucrative T20 tournament on the planet, the IPL is finally here.
And what better way to start the championship than the perennial arch-rivals going head-to-head in the curtain raiser. While the Chennai Super Kings are making their comeback into the IPL after a hiatus of two years, the Mumbai Indians, the only team to win 100 IPL matches, will enter the tournament as defending champions.
While Mumbai has retained a better part of their core in Rohit Sharma, Pandya brothers, Jasprit Bumrah and Kieron Pollard, they have racked up quite a lot of fresh talents in a bid to strengthen their squad.
On that note, here’s a look at the Probable XI that Mumbai Indians will field against CSK:
#1 Evin Lewis
The tearaway West Indian opener is one of the most explosive T20 batsman going around in the world.One of the few players with two or more Twenty20 International hundred, Lewis can prove to be an X-factor for the Mumbai Indians at the top.
His shenanigans in the powerplay will also help his partner Rohit Sharma settle down in his innings and play the role of a sheet anchor for Mumbai.
#2 Rohit Sharma (Captain)
The Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma has hinted of batting up the order in this edition of the IPL.
A perennial champion of limited-overs cricket, Rohit’s greatest strength lies in him taking a few balls at the start while launching himself into the bowlers once he gets set.
#3 Ishan Kishan (Wicket-Keeper)
Opening the batting would be the stylish left-handed batsman from Jharkhand, Ishan Kishan.
Blessed with elegance, powerful stroke-play, and tidy glovework, Kishan is a complete package that gives MI a rare advantage of fielding a wicket-keeper in the top 6.
#4 Hardik Pandya
I know seeing Hardik Pandya batting at No.4 would raise eyebrows but in my view time has come for people to stop seeing Pandya as just a slam-bang batsman at the backend of an innings.
Pandya, as we have seen on countless occasions is a marauder of the cricket ball against the spinners. Coming in at 4, Pandya will have more overs to get himself in before launching himself at the death.
#5 Kieron Pollard
The way I used their Right to Match Card to retain Kieron Pollard sent out a strong signal as to what extent the West Indian is part of their plans going forward.
As a cricketer, Pollard is a complete package. A live wire on the field, more than a handy bowler and off-course, on his day a brutal assaulter of a cricket ball , Pollard, at No.5 has the ability to change the course of a match in a matter of few balls, and hence can prove to be the differentiator, which he has so often been for Mumbai, in the end.
6 Krunal Pandya
Boasting of an impressive batting strike-rate of 191.12 and 135.75 to go along with 16 wickets at a respectable economy of 7.15 across the past two seasons, Krunal Pandya has truly established himself as a genuine all-rounder for the Mumbai Indians.
Pandya’s prowess as a belligerent hitter was on full display when he and Baroda Captain Deepak Hooda were involved in a breathtaking partnership of 106 off just 58 balls against Mumbai in a Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 game.
Apart from his batting, Pandya’s left-arm orthodox will give the Mumbai Indians a much-needed variety to their attack, which lacks serious depth in the spin bowling department.
#7 Surya Kumar Yadav
The perfect definition of a modern-day pinch-hitter Suryakumar Yadav rose into prominence with some breathtaking cameos for the Kolkata Knight Rider back in 2014.
Yadav, who was first picked by the Mumbai Indians back in 2011 on the back of impressive performances in the 2010-11 domestic season, comes back to his home franchise this season and is expected to lit up the MI batting at the backend of the innings.
#8 Rahul Chahar
With MI lacking depth in the spin-bowling department, the onus will be on Deepak Chahar, the leading wicket-taker (19 at an average of 9.94), to lead the Mumbai attack. Chahar has been a consistent performer for Rajasthan in the domestic season, the most impressive thing being his economy rate.
Chahar bowled at an astounding economy of 5.58 and a strike-rate of 10.6 and his performance will play a pivotal role in Mumbai’s campaign this year.
#9 Mustafizur Rahaman
The Fizz will all his variations, the off-cutters being the most prominent is one of the leading T20 bowlers going around.
Having previously featured for SRH in the IPL, Mustafizur is coming off a good form in the recently concluded Nidahas Trophy, where he bowled an outstanding penultimate over to Vijay Shankar and the Mumbai Indians will be hoping for the Fizz to emulate his heroics onto the IPL stage this time around.
#10 Jasprit Bumrah
Joining Fizz lead the pace attack is Mumbai Indians Jasprit Bumrah. Having lived in the shadow of Lasith Malinga during his formative years, Bumrah, with his slow deliveries to crushing reverse-swinging yorkers at the death, has grown to become an indispensable part both for the Mumbai Indians and the national team.
Bumrah was one of the three players who was retained by the Mumbai based franchise at the 2018 IPL auctions.
#11 Pat Cummins
Joining the duo of Fizz and Bumrah will be the Aussie and former Delhi Daredevils fast-bowler, Pat Cummins.
From running in hard at the front to bamboozling batsman with reverse-swing off the old ball to scoring handy runs at the death, there’s nothing Pat Cummins can’t do these days. The value that Cummins brings to a franchise was vindicated when bidding ensued between the team owners when finally Mumbai India racked up the Aussie at Rs 5.40 crore.