IPL 2020, Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings: Defending Champions' Likely XI
Mumbai Indians' (MI) last outing in the UAE was in 2014. This would haunt their dugout as they walk out on Saturday to play the season opener in Abu Dhabi. Similar to IPL 2020, MI had walked into IPL 2014 as defending champions but had lost all matches of the first leg that was played in the UAE.
But that was a long time ago, and a lot has changed at Mumbai in all that time. Rohit Sharma has grown leaps and bounds as a player and a captain and has three more trophies to flaunt. Jasprit Bumrah has risen to the top of the world, and the rise of the Pandya brothers has changed the dynamics of the team altogether.
The real worries for MI are a relatively inexperienced spin department and the unavailability of the services of Lasith Malinga, a seasoned campaigner for the franchisee who has withdrawn from the IPL 2020 due to personal reasons. That, however, does not mean that Mumbai have a weak pace battery.
Bumrah, Trent Boult, James Pattinson, Nathan Coulter-Nile(NCN), Mitchell McClenaghan and Hardik Pandya make a formidable pace attack.
The fact that MI have always relied on their spinners to be a defensive option could turn out to be a problem on the slow pitches of UAE. Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya, Anukul Roy and Jayant Yadav do not lack talent in any way but aren't exactly the kind of spinners who can instil fear in the opposition. With the IPL being played on just three venues, the impact of spinners would only increase over time.
Their biggest strength is that Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard, three explosive batters who can play at almost any position, would give them eight overs between them even on a day.
The batting looks settled with Rohit, Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav at the top and Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Keiron Pollard and Ishan Kishan, who can all be used as floaters according to the situation of the match. Their one major problem is that apart from Chris Lynn, the bench lacks experience and strength. If there are any problems like injuries, they would have to make drastic changes in their plans going ahead.
Concluding, it is a no brainer that the Rohit-led side always starts as the favourites of the tournament. They would be eager to break their tryst with odd-numbered years, having won four alternate trophies after starting in 2013.
Probable First XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah