News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay

Rediff.com  » Cricket » Can Hardik Get MI Back On Track?

Can Hardik Get MI Back On Track?

By HARISH KOTIAN
March 21, 2024 17:00 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

IMAGE: Hardik Pandya will want to lead Mumbai Indians to a record sixth IPL title. Photograph: BCCI
 

With a new skipper at the helm in Hardik Pandya, Mumbai Indians will want a fresh start in IPL 2024.

Five-time champions MI have failed to live up to expectations in the last three seasons. After winning their fifth IPL title in 2020, Mumbai twice crashed out in the league stages in two successive seasons in 2021 and 2022, while they made it to the play-offs last year, but lost in the Qualifier 2 match to the Pandya-led Gujaraat Titans.

A desperate MI went in for a complete rehaul for this season as they replaced IPL's most successful captain Rohit Sharma with Pandya, whom they bought from the Gujarat Titans for a whopping Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million).

Rohit has an incredible record as captain, leading MI to five IPL titles during his decade-long stint as skipper, and the decision to replacement him angered a majority of MI fans.

Rohit will captain India in the T20 World Cup but will play under Hardik in the IPL.

Apart from the captaincy, Rohit will also be eager to prove a point with the bat. He hasn't had a great time with the bat in recent seasons but given how he has fared in the recent Test series against England he certainly looks hungry for runs.

And without the additional responsibility of captaincy, you can expect Rohit to score plenty of runs as the opener.

He boasts of a superb record with the bat overall in the IPL with 6,211 runs from 243 matches at a strike rate of 130, with a century and 42 fifties.

MI also made another major move to free funds for Pandya's purchase by trading Australia's star all-rounder Cameron Green to Royal Challengers Bangalore. But with Pandya set to bowl in IPL 2024, it will more than make up for Green's departure, while Tim David is handy with both bat and ball.

IMAGE: Can Ishan Kishan repeat his good showing with the bat from last season? Photograph: BCCI

MI also made a smart move to bring in West Indian all-rounder Romario Shepherd, who was traded from Sunrisers Hyderabad. He boasts of an impressive batting strike rate of nearly 150 for 1,006 runs in 113 T20 matches along with 125 wickets at an average of 23.

Mumbai's batting can make any bowling attack nervous. Rohit is set to open with the dangerous Ishan Kishan, who will be aiming to make a statement with the bat after his recent controversy.

MI will be fretting over the fitness of Suryakumar Yadav who is recovering from ankle surgery earlier in the year. MI have enough firepower in their batting line-up in Dewald Brevis, Tilak Varma, Pandya, Shepherd and David to make up for Suryakumar's absence.

Mumbai struggled with their bowling in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah last season with their batters time and again coming to the rescue. But they made some smart buys at the auction to bolster their pace attack and provide some much-needed support to Bumrah.

Along with the captaincy, MI also went for a complete overhaul of their pace bowling department by buying young talents like South African Gerald Coetzee and Nuwan Thushara. But they suffered a blow with Dilshan Madushanka ruled out with injury. The Sri Lankan left-arm pacer was highly rated following his exploits in the ODI World Cup last year when he bagged 21 wickets and could have played a major role for MI.

He has been replaced by 17-year-old South African left-arm fast bowler Kwena Maphaka who hit the headlines in the Under-19 World Cup, taking 21 wickets from six games.

MI also lost out on the experienced Jason Behrendorff, who was ruled out with injury and went in for a like-to-like replacement in England left-arm fast bowler Luke Wood.

IMAGE: Tim David hits out during Mumbai Indians' nets session. Photograph: BCCI

Young pacer Akash Madhwal, who registered magical figures of 5/5 to destroy Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator match last season -- the best bowling figures registered by a bowler in an IPL play-off match -- will have to contribute with the ball this season.

The absence of their two key pacers ahead of the World Cup will put more pressure on Pandya to contribute with the ball and more often than not he might have to bowl his quota of four overs.

The lack of match winners in the spin department is a bit of worry for Mumbai Indians. 35-year-old Piyush Chawla, who took 22 wickets last season, is once again expected to lead the spin attack, but Kumar Kartikeya, Shreyas Gopal and Shams Mulani don't have much experience of IPL cricket.

Afghanistan's spin all-rounder Mohammad Nabi could play a key role in conditions where spinners come into play as he is quite handy with the bat lower down the order.

Once again, Mumbai Indians will go into the IPL like they have done in the last few years heavily dependent on their batting more than their bowling. A lot of the bowling responsibility will fall on Bumrah and his four overs will be the make-or-break in virtually every match for MI.

Unlike the other teams, Mumbai Indians are a lot more dependent on their Indians players than their overseas stars.

Key Players

Gerald Coetzee

IMAGE: South Africa's young pacer Gerald Coetzee will form a dangerous pace partnership with Jasprit Bumrah. Photograph: BCCI

Coetzee was one of the top bowlers in the ODI World Cup last year as he picked up 20 wickets -- the most wicket by a South African in the mega-event.

He is effective in the middle overs with his ability to bowl quick and keep things tight.

Hardik Pandya

The extra responsibility of captaincy won't be an issue for the all-rounder as he proved during his time at Titans, along with shouldering the burden with both bat and ball.

Suryakumar Yadav

SKY has been the leading batter in world in the T20 format in the last couple of years. He enjoyed his best season last year, smashing 605 runs in 16 games at a strike rate of 181, with a century and five fifties.

He might miss the first couple of games but trust him to take the bowlers to the cleaners once he gets back on the field.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit hasn't been at his most fluent best with the bat in the last few IPLs with his team struggling to make a mark.

Freed from the captaincy, this season could see the star opener back to his belligerent best with the bat.

Jasprit Bumrah

Bumrah missed IPL 2023 due to a back injury. But he made a superb comeback later in the year in the ODI World Cup and bowled some unbelievable spells in the Test series against England.

A fit and firing Bumrah makes Mumbai one of the teams to watch out in IPL 2024.

Ishan Kishan

Kishan desperately needs runs to get his career back on track. He has lost his place in the Indian team and the only way back is through the IPL.

He has been consistent with the bat for MI, scoring 400-plus runs in the last two seasons, at a healthy strike rate.

The left-hander is one of the cleanest strikers in the ball and loves to take on the bowlers in the Powerplay. He will form a lethal opening combo for MI with Rohit.

Prediction

The weak spin attack could become a major factor in the latter half of the tournament for MI. Even thought their batting line-up is among the best, MI will need consistent performances from their bowlers too.

It will be interesting to see how the MI players responds to a new captain. If their batting clicks, then MI will take some stopping, but their weak bowling could become a factor.

Mumbai Indians

Batters

Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Dewald Brevis, Tilak Varma, Nehal Wadhera, Shivalik Sharma

Wicketkeepers

Ishan Kishan, Vishnu Vinod

All-rounders

Hardik Pandya (captain), Mohammad Nabi, Romario Shepherd, Tim David, Naman Dhir, Anshul Kamboj.

Bowlers

Jasprit Bumrah, Luke Wood, Piyush Chawla, Shams Mulani, Shreyas Gopal, Arjun Tendulkar, Akash Madhwal, Kumar Kartikeya, Gerald Coetzee, Nuwan Thushara.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

T20 World Cup

T20 World Cup