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Feature

Mumbai Indians tick most boxes, but where's the top-quality spinner?

With Tim David joining Pollard and Tymal Mills joining Bumrah, they have the end overs covered with bat and ball

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
24-Mar-2022
Jasprit Bumrah can be expected to boss the death overs, but who will take up Trent Boult's powerplay workload?  •  BCCI

Jasprit Bumrah can be expected to boss the death overs, but who will take up Trent Boult's powerplay workload?  •  BCCI

Where they finished in 2021

Defending champions in 2021, Mumbai missed the playoffs race by just one spot, losing out on net run rate. They left things a bit too late in the season to have a decent chance of qualifying.

Potential first XI

1 Ishan Kishan (wk), 2 Rohit Sharma (capt), 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Tilak Varma, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Tim David, 7 Daniel Sams/Fabian Allen, 8 Tymal Mills, 9 Jaydev Unadkat, 10 M Ashwin, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

Player availability

From the players signed at the recent auction, only Jofra Archer is unavailable for the upcoming season, which leaves the Mumbai squad well-stacked.

Batting

At the auction, Mumbai did a pretty good job of covering the holes that Quinton de Kock and the Pandya brothers had left. Their top three of Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav looks solid, and Kishan can also move to No. 3 or 4 if they decide to open with Anmolpreet Singh, whom they tried at the top once last season, against Chennai Super Kings.
The finishing job will be in the destructive hands of Kieron Pollard and Tim David at Nos. 5 and 6, with an allrounder in Daniel Sams or Fabian Allen to follow. Among their overseas options, they also have "Baby AB" Dewald Brevis, the Player of the Tournament in the recent Under-19 World Cup, who finished with an average of 84.33 and strike rate of 90.19 while dispatching the ball to all parts of the ground.
The only question they need to answer is whom to bat at No. 4 if Suryakumar slots in at No. 3. Their options are either the newly acquired Tilak Varma, who has shown his potential for Hyderabad in the domestic circuit, or Anmolpreet. Mumbai may also feel the lack of Indian options if any of the first-choice batters is injured or out of form.

Bowling

Jasprit Bumrah will continue to spearhead the attack, and along with a rejuvenated Tymal Mills could well give Mumbai the league's best death-overs attack. But in the absence of Trent Boult, who set the powerplay on fire in IPL 2020 and the first half of IPL 2021, Mumbai will have to think about their new-ball options. Bumrah usually bowls just one over in the powerplay, so the onus may fall on Jaydev Unadkat and Sams, who have T20 economy rates of 7.22 and 7.10 in that phase since IPL 2019.
For the middle overs, Mumbai lack, like before, a top-quality spinner. With M Ashwin and Mayank Markande as their only Indian options and Allen as an allrounder, Mumbai might miss the experienced big-name spinner they would have wanted for the second half of the tournament when pitches are likely to turn more because of the constant use of the four grounds hosting the league stage.

Young players to watch out for

Among Indian names, Mumbai signed 19-year-old Hyderabad batter Tilak Varma, whom head coach Mahela Jayawardene called a "massive talent" on Wednesday, for his hard-hitting strokeplay. A left-hand batter, Varma could bat at No. 3 if Kishan's is the first wicket to fall, to maintain the right-left combination. Varma struck 139 off 123 against Delhi in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy and finished the 2020-21 season of the 50-overs competition with an impressive tally of 391 at an average of 97.75 and a strike rate of 97.26. In the 2021-22 Syed Mushtaq Ali (T20) Trophy, he struck his 215 runs at 147.26.

Coaching staff

Mahela Jayawardene (head coach), Zaheer Khan (director of cricket operations), Shane Bond (bowling coach), Robin Singh (batting coach), James Pamment (fielding coach)

Poll

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo