Despite being led by Sachin Tendulkar, and having greats like Sanath Jayasuriya, Zaheer Khan and Shaun Pollock in their midst, Mumbai Indians failed to impress in the first few years in the competition. They were eliminated in 2008 and 2009 in the group stage before going down to Chennai Super Kings in the 2010 final.
After getting ousted at the playoff stage in 2011 and 2012, the tide finally turned for Mumbai Indians, under Rohit Sharma’s astute leadership, in 2013. They beat Chennai Super Kings in the final by 23 runs, and since then have been a different team altogether.
Mumbai won the tournament three more times, every alternate year, in 2015, 2017 and 2019, each time with Rohit at the helm. MI are the most successful team in the IPL with four trophies to their name.
They will, however, be keen to break the sequence of alternate wins by clinching the crown in 2020. Here’s a closer look at the elements that could help MI do the same.
1 Versatility in batting
Versatility has been one of the key factors behind Rohit’s MI becoming IPL’s most successful franchise. And their batting is the biggest evidence of that.
Rohit himself is one of the biggest and cleanest strikers of the cricket ball, and on his day can single-handedly lead the team to triumph.
Suryakumar Yadav has been consistency personified for Mumbai, and has been unlucky not to have been picked for national duty yet. He has been the backbone of MI’s batting over the last two seasons, with 512 and 424 runs respectively - both times at a strike rate of over 130.
Yadav’s mature head has won Mumbai a few close encounters, as he can change his game as per the demands of the situation.
MI also have the aggressive Chris Lynn in their ranks this time, who was surprisingly released by KKR prior to the auctions. Lynn smashed 491 and 405 runs for Kolkata in 2018 and 2019 respectively at a strike rate of 130.23 and 139.65.
Further, there is also South African Quinton de Kock, who can put to the sword any attack in the world on his day. De Kock had an excellent 2019 with 529 runs in 16 games at a strike rate of 132.91.
2 Special all-round talent
Hardik and Krunal Pandya
Mumbai Indians are blessed to have some of the most dangerous all-rounders in the T20 format, who have consistently put their hands up for the franchise - the Pandya brothers, and Kieron Pollard. If they fire this year as well, that would go a long way towards Mumbai lifting the trophy for the fifth time.
If you look at their performances last year, Hardik was brilliant with 402 runs in 16 matches at a strike rate of 191.41 and an average of 44.66. While he has been out of competitive cricket for a while with injury issues, he made a sensational return in the DY Patil T20 Cup with scores of 158 from 55 and 105 from 39 balls.
Hardik's ‘see ball hit ball’ philosophy has worked in Mumbai’s favour many times. He has made an impression with his pace bowling as well, claiming 14 wickets at a strike rate of 18.21 last season.
Hardik’s brother Krunal may have lost his place in the Indian team, but he can gain it back with some impressive showings in the IPL. Coming in lower down the order, he has played some crucial cameos for MI over the years. And with the ball, he has chipped in with key scalps on a number of occasions.
Krunal was in form last year as well, with 183 runs in 16 matches at a strike rate of 122, and 12 wickets at a strike rate of 23. While on paper the performances may not look spectacular, the fact that he gets limited opportunities makes his efforts credible.
West Indies’ limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard has been a stalwart for Mumbai for many years. He has the ability to tonk the ball out of the park at will. And while his friendly medium pacers haven't claimed a lot of wickets, he remains brilliant in the field.
Last year, Pollard smashed 279 runs in 16 matches at a strike rate of 156.74 in Mumbai’s winning campaign. Overall he has 2,755 runs in 148 IPL games, striking at 146.77, with 14 fifties.
3 Best bowling line-up in the IPL
If you have to name one side with the best bowling unit in the IPL, the unanimous choice would be Mumbai Indians. Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga have formed the most deadly opening pair in IPL history. Their toe-crushing yorkers are next to unplayable.
Both are big-match players too, as evident from their effort in last year’s final. While Bumrah was the man of the match for his sensational spell of 2 for 14, Malinga came back from a battering to concede only seven runs in the last over and pick up the wicket of Shardul Thakur to help Mumbai win the thriller by one run.
Bumrah finished IPL 2019 with 19 wickets in 16 games at a strike rate of 19.47. He has struggled for wickets since his international return from his stress fracture, but Mumbai will be confident of him being a force in the IPL this time as well.
As for Malinga, he is still playing T20 cricket for Sri Lanka, and bowled an unplayable yorker to Andre Russell in the first T20I against West Indies at Pallekele. Although he was expensive last year, he still finished with 16 scalps in 12 games at a strike rate of 16.81.
Malinga and Bumrah have a good supporting cast too. The proven match-winner from New Zealand, Trent Boult, joins their ranks. Further, Dhawal Kulkarni, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell McClenaghan and young leg-spinner Rahul Chahar complete a formidable bowling line-up.