Niggles for Mumbai amid big-name hype
Probable first XI
1 Michael Hussey, 2 Aditya Tare, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 CM Gautam (wk)/Jalaj Saxena, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Corey Anderson, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Lasith Malinga 11 Pragyan Ojha
Champions. Won their maiden IPL title after reaching their second final.
Mumbai Indians were one of three IPL teams to retain the maximum number of players before the auction, but are missing two big names that contributed heavily to the title win last season - Dinesh Karthik and Mitchell Johnson.
In spite of these absences, they still have a formidable line-up of foreign batsmen, especially with the addition of Michael Hussey at the top of the order and the all-round skills of Corey Anderson. The fitness of their two explosive allrounders, Anderson and Kieron Pollard, will be a concern for the team as both will come into the tournament with relatively little or no match practice. Pollard scored a first-class hundred recently, but he has played only two matches since the Champions League last October. Mumbai will be wary of how the knee injury may have impacted his ability in the field.
Their overseas players fit snugly into their roles, leaving two areas of concern for Mumbai - the wicketkeeper's slot and the spin-bowling department. Their relatively weak line-up of Indian batsmen may result in CM Gautam getting the gloves with Aditya Tare included as a full-time batsman. If Tare (or Ambati Rayudu) doubles up with the gloves, Mumbai could give allrounder Jalaj Saxena a look-in, re-inforcing their spin attack of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha on the slower UAE tracks.
For the first time in the IPL, Michael Hussey will take the field in colours other than the bright yellow of Chennai Super Kings. He was the leading run-getter in IPL 2013 and has struck three fifties in this year's Big Bash League. His selection is key for Mumbai, who are missing some heft at the top of the order without Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith. Hussey's style of play will also allow Mumbai's line-up of stroke players to bat around him.
In one of the only two matches he played in the IPL last year, in the middle of a period outside the India team, Zaheer Khan took 4 for 17 against Chennai Super Kings. This season, things are different for Zaheer as he is fitter but his performances recently seem to have hit a plateau. Mumbai will be hoping he can hit a good run, especially as he will be looked at to lead the attack when Lasith Malinga is called up for national day in May.
For a price of Rs 50 lakhs, Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood is a bargain, although Mumbai managed a good deal on the in-demand Corey Anderson as well. Hazlewood has been in good form over the last few months and his performances include a four-wicket haul against England in January and a six-for that helped New South Wales clinch the Sheffield Shield last month.
Mumbai will have a selection headache in May when Malinga would be called up for national duty on Sri Lanka's tour to England. The two ODIs against Ireland are on May 6 and 8, while the limited-overs series against England starts on May 20. Mumbai's back-up options are Hazlewood, South Africa's Marchant de Lange and West Indian Krishmar Santokie, who proved effective with the new ball in the recent World T20.
11/2 - third favourites behind Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Odds provided by Bet365
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo