Transitional MI make ambitious gamble to reclaim glory


Can this be a happy homecoming for Hardik Pandya?

Mumbai Indians a team that has been in the news, thanks to some of the biggest changes they've done between the previous season and this one. Leading the way on that front is the change in captaincy. Hardik Pandya insists, at least publically, that all will be well with him and Rohit Sharma, the ex-MI captain and the current India skipper. While the season will present a lot more opportunities to see how that pans out, what is abundantly clear is that Mumbai Indians are looking ahead as they enter a transitional phase.

Unlike with the national team, transitions in franchise cricket when coupled with the auction dynamics offer minefields aplenty. The leadership change then brings a host of questions with it, not least the tactical calls that could be taken. For instance, will the new captain be averse to doing an impact sub with his predecessor? Or would Rohit's expertise be required onfield?

That apart, Mumbai have also been riddled with injuries to some of their starters just as they had been in the previous season. Suryakumar Yadav will undergo a fitness test on March 21 to see if he can play but until he's available there would be the need to ply with other options which is bound to impact the rest of the combination. Ideally, with the riches in domestic batting talent, MI would target a large chunk of their bowling to be carried by overseas options alongside their talisman - Jasprit Bumrah. For now, even that possibility would have to be approached with caution as some of their pacers come wrapped in cotton wool.

On many fronts then the season requires them to navigate some muddy waters. Will they be able to cruise through?

Where they've finished in this cycle:2022: 10th , 2023 :Qualifier 2

Key additions:Hardik Pandya, Mohammad Nabi, Luke Wood, Gerald Coetzee, Dilshan Madhushanka

Key subtractions:Jason Behrendoff (ruled out due to injury), Cameron Green (traded to RCB), Chris Jordan

Full Squad:

Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (c), Nehal Wadhera, Tilak Varma, Tim David, Dewald Brevis, Naman Dhir, Shivalik Sharma, Shams Mulani, Mohammad Nabi, Arjun Tendulkar, Shreyas Gopal, Kumar Kartikeya, Luke Wood, Vishnu Vinod, Piyush Chawla, Akash Madhwal, Gerald Coetzee, Nuwan Tushara, Anshul Kamboj, Jasprit Bumrah, Romario Shepherd, Dilshan Madhushanka

One stat from last year they'll want to remedy

MI bowlers conceded at 9.41 per over across the last season and were the most expensive bowling side. They conceded six 200+ totals, which was the most by a team in a single IPL edition.

One to watch:Tilak Varma. The youngster has leapfrogged many to be in the fringes of the national team already and as Mumbai Indians too look towards a transition phase, the time could be ripe for someone like Varma to lead the way ahead.

Injuries and availability:

Suryakumar Yadav is set to miss at least the opening game. Dilshan Madushanka too could miss the intial stages if his injury doesn't heal in time. They'd also be sweating over the fitness of Gerald Coetzee who is nursing a groin injury that would need to be managed during the tournament.

Possible XI and potential Impact Player tactic

Until Suryakumar Yadav is passed fit, MI will have to tinker with their combination in the best manner possible and the inclusion of all-rounders to offset the void cannot be overruled.

Possible XI: Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma, Tilak Varma, Hardik Pandya, Tim David, Nehal Wadhera, Mohammad Nabi, Piyush Chawla, Gerald Coetzee, Jasprit Bumrah, Luke Wood

A specialist batter like Wadhera could be swapped out to accommodate a spinner (Kumar Kartikeya, Shreyas Gopal) or a pacer (Akash Madhwal) according to the conditions.