Continuing my series previewing the upcoming IPL season, I’ll be taking a look at how the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings are shaping up.
They are the defending champions and also the team with the most IPL titles. Last year, the top-order performed well and Quinton de Kock was on the list of top ten run-scorers. Moreover, Jasprit Bumrah was a top ten wicket-taker.
They have added Chris Lynn to their top order. However, he may not get many games due to his current form in the CPL. Therefore, Rohit Sharma and de Kock may open the batting for the MI.
The other options they already have are Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan if Sharma decides to bat down the order.
In the middle-order, they have added Sherfone Rutherford, but as Kieron Pollard is there he may not get many chances to play. Pollard is in good form and also led his CPL team to victory.
In addition, they have added Saurabh Tiwary. Along with Pollard, they already have Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya.
In bowling, they have added Nathan Coulter-Nile, who can also bat, as well as Dhawal Kulkarni and Trent Boult. They have replaced Lasith Malinga who will not be available this year and added James Pattinson in his place. In addition, they already have Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, Anukul Roy, Jayant Yadav and Mitchell McClenaghan.
Therefore, their probable playing XI could be:
Quinton de Kock (WK), Rohit Sharma (C), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Trent Boult, Rahul Chahar and Jasprit Bumrah.
However, the only issue is they do not have a properly-experienced spin bowler. Krunal Pandya’s spells will play a very crucial role this year in the UAE’s spinning conditions. If the spin department is taken care of, the MI have a favourable chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
Chennai Super Kings
They were the runners-up last season as they lost the final against the Mumbai Indians by just one run. Their captain MS DHoni led from the front and was the leading run-scorer. However, their bowlers performed better and Imran Tahir was the purple cap holder.
Deepak Chahar and Harbhajan Singh were the other bowlers who were in the list of top ten wicket-takers.
In batting at the top, they have Murali Vijay, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shane Watson, Faf Du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu. As Suresh Raina is not available and Gaikwad is suffering from COVID-19, Vijay may get a chance to play. CSK will miss a lefty batsman.
In the middle-order, they have MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo. This year they have added Sam Curran. There are possibilities with Jadeja batting a little higher up the order this season, as he may be the only left-handed batsman in the playing XI initially.
In the bowling, they have added Piyush Chawla, Josh Hazlewood and R Sai Kishore. They already have Tahir, Karn Sharma, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, KM Asif, Lungisani Ngidi and Deepak Chahar. Therefore, they have got a lot of bowling options.
Harbhajan Singh was part of the team, but is now not available for this year’s IPL and will be heard doing commentary in Hindi.
Therefore, the probable playing XI could be:
Murali Vijay, Shane Watson, Faf Du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C) (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Imran Tahir.
The only thing they will have to prevent is injuries. As the playing XI is almost the same as the last season, we can expect this team to qualify for the playoffs again.