December 11 2018
They have won the IPL title a record three times but Mumbai Indians had a season to forget in 2018, missing the playoffs by a whisker.
But they seem to be very keen to set that right next season and the best place to start is the upcoming IPL auctions. They have released as many as 10 players from their roster, including one capped player in the form of Saurabh Tiwary and four internationals, namely JP Duminy, Pat Cummins, Mustafizur Rahman and Akila Dananjaya. They will be going into the auctions with an available salary cap of Rs 10.5 crores.
The Rohit Sharma-captained team has retained the likes of Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting, Jason Behrendorff, Ewin Lewis and Adam Milne. They also have youngsters Mayank Markande and Ishan Kishan who shone last season. The core team includes pacer Jasprit Bumrah and the Pandya brothers, Hardik and Kunal.
Mumbai have made an astute piece of signing in the former of Quinton de Kock by trading with Royal Challengers Bangalore. MI were keen to sign him at last season’s auctions as well, eventually losing out in a bidding war of Rs.2.8 crores to RCB. De Kock can play anywhere in the top four: he can open the innings with Lewis or come instead of Rohit or Suryakumar Yadav at one or two down, depending on the situation of the match. He’s also a wicketkeeper, giving MI options to rotate.
At the IPL auctions, there are a host of players Mumbai could target. D’Arcy Short struggled against spin playing for Rajasthan. He could form a very strong partnership with Rohit playing at the Wankhede which does not support spin.
Jaydev Unadkat could replace Mustafizur Rahman. He has a variety of slower balls and Mumbai could do with a spinner who offers some toss and guile. Axar Patel could be another option. He was the find of the 2014 IPL season but has struggled since then. Nevertheless he boasts of an economy of 7.52 in 4 seasons.
Mohammed Shami was injured for Delhi last season. He could be the pacer they need, considering they have only one foreigner slot available. But if they are going to use that slot to sign a pacer, it could very well be Lasith Malinga. The ageing Lankan has spent 9 successful seasons with Mumbai but was injured for most of last year. He has resumed playing international cricket so bringing him back to the Wankhede will not be a bad option at all.
Another area that needs immediate attention for Mumbai is the all rounder spot. Kieron Pollard is ageing and does not wield the same impact anymore. His compatriot Carlos Brathwaite can contribute with bat and ball. There is also the option of Chris Woakes who had an indifferent season with RCB as well as former Mumbai star Corey Anderson who has been playing well lately for New Zealand.
All in all, Mumbai go into the auction with a strong core that has already been strengthened by de Kock’s signing. A few valuable additions will guarantee them a place in the playoffs, if not a fourth IPL title.