IPL 2023 Mumbai Indians Preview
The most successful franchise in IPL history has had a bit of a rough time in recent years. We preview whether Mumbai Indians can bounce back in 2023 to add a 6th title to their already packed trophy cabinet.
Mumbai Indians Review of IPL 2022
It's fair to say that no aspect of Mumbai's game was impressive in last season's IPL. The real weaknesses were the fact that despite having a strong top order and on occasions getting off to good starts, MI never really dominated opposition sides with the bat.
Collectively they recorded just 8 half centuries with 3 of those belonging to Suryakumar Yadav who despite only being fit enough to appear in just over half of Mumbai's matches last season was by far their most effective batsmen.
Conversely Rohit Sharma continued his poor IPL form recording just 268 runs with no scores over 50. It's now almost 2 years since he made a half century in the IPL but the issue with Rohit really extends far longer with just 1 season out of the last 6 seeing the MI captain scoring 400+ runs.
Simultaneously, Kieron Pollard who has been a main stay of this MI side for so long, looked a shadow of his former self. His 144 runs coming at a strike rate of just 107 with a top score of 25! He has now departed the franchise and that will give more regular game time to a few of the younger players that MI blooded last season.
Dewald Brevis, Kumar Kartikeya and Hrithik Shokeen all gave glimpses of their undoubted talent while at the same time Tilak Varma was one of just 4 Mumbai players who was ever presented through out the 2022 campaign as MI chopped and changed looking for a winning formula.
On the bowling front, MI were heavily reliant on Jasprit Bumrah's 4 overs to win them matches. They otherwise used a whole host of quicks to try and support Bumrah but none of them were able to deliver.
On the spin front too MI struggled for consistency and penetration. The experienced Murugan Ashwin often bowled in the powerplay and was at least accurate without offering a huge amount of penetration and it was otherwise left to the likes of Kartikeya and Shokeen later in the season to stake a claim for a more regular spot in 2023.
Other than the poor performance of individual cricketers, the other glaring problem for MI was the balance of their side. Having lost both Pandya brothers prior to the super auction, Mumbai failed to bring in high quality all-rounders to replace them. Again, it lead to a lot of tinkering with the line-up to try and find a combination of players that could deliver success but to no avail. Will 2023 be any different?
MI key stats and relative rankings from IPL 2022
Mumbai Indians IPL 2023 Auction
Given the failures of last year it was perhaps surprising that we didn't see more wholesale changes within the MI squad but stability in previous seasons has been a hallmark of the franchise and has brought them significant success.
The big departures were Kieron Pollard as well as an array of overseas quicks including Mills, Sams and Meredith who failed to impress.
Having freed up a fair amount of cash by releasing those players, MI went in big for one of the hottest properties in the 2023 auction and secured the signing of Australia's Cameron Green.
Green certainly fits the profile that MI were looking for as an all-rounder who has age on his side - Mumbai's prior success has been built on bringing in younger players for the long haul. However, question marks remain about his experience at this level in T20 cricket and his fitness.
Elsewhere, MI were very quiet, bringing in Jhye Richardson as a back-up quick and replacement for those mentioned above. Duan Jansen, brother of Marco who of course played for MI a couple of seasons has also joined Mumbai's stock of young South African talent.
MI also secured the signings of a couple of experienced local players in Piyush Chawla who has been shunted around multiple franchises of late but has made just a single appearance over the last 2 seasons and Vishnu Vinod who is presumably back-up for Ishan Kishan.
Mumbai Indians Predicted XI IPL 2023
The opening births pretty much pick themselves albeit that MI will need far more consistency from Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan in IPL 2023.
Rohit does at least come into the 2023 season off the back of some excellent form for his country with a fluent century in the first Test against Australia and a ton in the last ODI against New Zealand earlier this year too.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Ishan Kishan who has played in 9 of India's white ball games so far in 2023 and has a top score of just 37 which came in his first outing of the year against Sri Lanka. Since then he's delivered 4 single figure scores in his last 5 T20i innings.
While Ishan did top score for MI last season with 418 runs, almost a third of those runs came in the opening 2 matches as he hit back to back 50s. Thereafter, the pocket sized left-hander didn't add much until late in the season, by which time MI's hopes of making the playoffs were already finished.
The glaring issue that MI also have is that they don't have many recognised opening options beyond Rohit and Ishan so a return to form for both is absolutely vital for their chances of making it back into the top 4.
Mumbai's $2 million signing has played just 21 T20 matches in his career to date
In fact, the only potential option they have to bat up top (although it's more likely that he'll find himself in the number 3 position) is new signing Cameron Green. That is certainly how Australia have used him in his fledging T20i career to date albeit that they didn't pick him in their initial squad for the T20 World Cup (he later came in as a replacement for the injured Josh Inglis).
There's no doubting that Green is a talented player but he comes into his debut IPL season with little experience in T20 cricket let alone in these conditions and a massive price tag hanging over his head. Equally, he's currently injured after breaking his finger in the Boxing Day Test and he's already had problems with a stress fracture in his back. Like so many of Mumbai's stars then, there are massive question marks over the form and fitness of Green coming into IPL 2023.
I'd hope that Mumbai card Suryakumar Yadav at 4. Given the weaknesses in their lower middle order last season, MI did push Sky down to 5 or even 6 at times last year. However, it's worth remembering that he is currently ranked as the number 1 batsman in T20i cricket and he needs to be given as much opportunity as possible to influence the game.
Sky's record from his last 30 T20i innings. It took him at one point to 910 points on the ICC ranking system which is the 2nd highest in the history of the sport
Young left-hander Tilak Varma was one of the bright points of an otherwise disappointing 2022 campaign and the good news for MI is that the 20-year-old has returned to domestic cricket with Hyderabad and continued to score lots of runs in limited overs cricket. He notched 4 half centuries in 7 innings during the T20 Syed Musthaq Ali campaign and then followed that up with a couple of hundreds in the 50 over Vijay Hazare trophy.
Tim David will probably bat at 6 in the finisher role. The Singaporean went for over a million dollars in the 2022 auction but struggled in the early part of his career. He did however bounce back later on, scoring 186 runs at a strike rate of 216 in his debut season. There are certainly few players who can hit the ball further than David and he should enjoy playing his home games at the Wankhede which has a reputation for 6 hitting particularly towards the back end of the innings.
If Cameron Green can deliver with the ball and if David and Tilka Varma can offer a few overs too then MI could bring in another batting all-rounder in the number 7 position. Dewald Brevis, Tristan Stubbs or Ramandeep Singh could all provide additional firepower with bat in hand and another part-time option with the ball.
However, it's still likely that MI will have a longish tail unless they can find a way to get the likes of Jhye Richardson or Duan Jansen into their team, both of whom are capable lower order hitters.
Jofra Archer can strike a long ball too but MI's primary objective will be to nurse him through the season after his return from a lengthy injury. With Jasprit Bumrah not having played any cricket for 6 months either then the fact that MI have very limited options beyond these 2 does represent a major risk.
There was plenty of head scrathing last year when Jofra Archer decided to put himself forward in the super auction and then when MI bought him in the knowledge that he wouldn't play any cricket for at least another year. If that gamble pays off and Archer and Bumrah remain fit for the season then MI have 2 of the premier fast bowlers in world cricket.
Bumrah's death over bowling stats from IPL 2022. He was the most economical fast bowler during this phase of the game (min 50 balls) but in holding 2 of his overs back, MI often left themselves chasing the game late on. A fully fit Archer would allow them to attack early in the innings while still keeping Bumrah's yorkers for the end of the innings
Spin has never been a particular strong suit for MI mainly due to the fact that the Wankhede pitch is better suited to seamers and some of it's shorter boundaries (around the 65m mark) also make it difficult for slower bowlers to succeed.
Kumar Kartikeya's left arm spin helped take Madhya Pradesh to the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy (the 4 day Indian domestic competition) with 33 wickets. Meanwhile, Hrithik Shokeen has done well as a lower order batsmen in domestic cricket but probably lacks the variety to be a man that MI can bank on to bowl 4 overs from on a regular basis. This might not be a weakness at the Wankhede but on their travels, MI face the prospect of being out gunned on the slow bowling front.
Mumbai Indians IPL 2023 Predictions
It's a difficult one to call for MI. On one hand, they have some of the best players in world cricket representing them and some very exciting young talent that you'd imagine will only get better. On the other, there are question marks about the form and fitness of several key players.
MI are traditionally slow starters to an IPL season but in previous years this hasn't hindered their success. If anything, it's been crucial to it as they tend to peak at the right time. Still, given the horror season that they had in 2022 it will be important for them to set the tone early in 2023 and they start off their campaign with 2 massive fixtures against old rivals RCB and CSK. I think we'll know a lot more about how MI will fair in 2023 after those 2 matches.
MI's lack of experience in the spin department is unlikely to cause issues when they play at the Wankhede but it does mean that they need to win most of their home fixtures if we assume that the same deficiency will be exposed at other venues.
The balance to their side was also a problem in 2022. Theoretically, Cameroon Green helps to solve that problem but a lot is resting on the broad shoulders of a player who has only played 21 T20 matches across his career to date.
I'm banking on MI's star players coming to the fore in IPL 2023. It's not by chance that this franchise has won 5 of the last 10 IPL titles and despite their struggles last year, the set-up at the club both on and off the field remains incredibly strong. Their will be a few players within this Mumbai side with points to prove in the coming months and if they sneak into the playoffs, you wouldn't bet against that winning mentality coming through again during the knockout stages.
Predicted Finish: 4th
All stats used in this blog are from my own database which is freely accessible at T20 head to head. Images are my own with the exception of player profiles and background images which are used under a creative commons license or otherwise royalty free
They have some decent players and when they click they could beat anyone on the day. I think they will finish top 4 but also don't see them going all the way as they are lacking in key departments. Maybe in a few years time their youngsters will start to shine.
Certainly taking a lot of talent out of South Africa at the moment. It'll be interesting to see how Stubbs and Brevis have developed
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