The talent level in Australian cricket is so high that plenty of top-class players fly under the radar. Here are a few.
The Indian Premier League is only a mere three weeks away and teams have already set up preparation camps with the local Indian players.
With the T20 World Cup coming up soon, each player will be looking to impress their national selectors as the standard of IPL is as high as international T20 cricket. I’ll be looking through all eight squads and predicting where they’re most likely to finish based on the quality in their squads. First up, Mumbai Indians.
Batsmen: Rohit Sharma (captain), Saurabh Tiwary, Chris Lynn, Suryakumar Yadav, Anmolpreet Singh
Keepers: Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare
All-rounders: Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Anukul Roy, Sherfane Rutherford, Digvijay Deshmukh, Prince Balwant Rai
Seamers: Nathan Coulter-Nile, Trent Boult, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohsin Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mitchell McClenaghan
Spinners: Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar
How they fared in 2019: Champions
Despite a slow start with losing two out of three games, Mumbai finished top of the table over Chennai Super Kings on net run rate at the end of the regular season. They defeated the Super Kings comfortably in Chennai’s fortress in the Qualifier before winning a thriller of a final against the same opponent a few days later by one run.
Mumbai have seriously strengthened their squad this season. For every player that can be guaranteed a spot in the playing XI, their bench strength is good enough to form their own team in the IPL and compete pretty well. If Chris Lynn has an off day, Quinton de Kock can slot in. Should Nathan Coulter-Nile and Lasith Malinga miss a game or so, Trent Boult and Mitchell McClenaghan can fill their roles.
Strength: Pace attack, all-rounders, and the captain
The pace of Coulter-Nile plus Boult swinging the new ball while Jasprit Bumrah and Malinga finish off the innings with their death-bowling skills is a seriously good quartet of quicks. A young seamer like Mohsin Khan will learn so much off them. It will enhance his skills even if he doesn’t play a game. While it is highly unlikely that all four of them will play, it shows the bench strength Mumbai has in their pace arsenal.
The trio of Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya has caused havoc for opposition sides. While Hardik smashes bowlers for fun regardless of the situation, Pollard and Krunal Pandya can play the waiting game for a few overs should Mumbai be in trouble as they’ve done for them many times – especially in IPL finals. The additions of Sherfane Rutherford and Anukul Roy as back-ups for the Pandya brothers shows how strong the Mumbai all-rounders department is this season. It is a scary thought for the rest of the lot.
Rohit Sharma as captain has been outstanding for his home town. Having been thrust into the leadership gig halfway through the 2013 season, he has repaid the team management with four IPL titles (2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019). When things go off in big games, he takes a gamble with plan B or plan C and usually, they work. He understands his own game very well and his calmness will be key towards a good season for Mumbai.
Weakness: lack of spinners
While Anukul Roy and Krunal Pandya are handy sixth bowling options to have, they’re not front-line spinners. Rahul Chahar is a quality leg-spinner and will continue to develop this IPL. But should he have an off day or have a dip in form, Mumbai only has Jayant Yadav as the back-up spinner and he will struggle unless he finds a rank turner to bowl on.
Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Chris Lynn, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan (keeper), Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga/Trent Boult.
Verdict: Mumbai are too good of a side to miss out on playoffs. They should finish in the top two comfortably and will most likely make it to the final. Whether they win the whole thing altogether, that depends on whether they turn up in crunch games.