The Mumbai Indians (MI) added another feather to their star-studded Indian Premier League (IPL) cap last year. Rohit Sharma's men lifted their 5th title with a convincing win over the Delhi Capitals in the final, and are firm favourites to go all the way again this season.
MI have a stacked roster, with quality players in all departments and an excellent support group. They released a few benchwarmers from last season, and have the funds to make another couple of smart acquisitions in the IPL 2021 auction.
Retained Players: Rohit Sharma, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Quinton de Kock, Rahul Chahar, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary, Mohsin Khan
Released Players: Prince Balwant Rai, Digvijay Deshmukh, Lasith Malinga, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson, Sherfane Rutherford, Mitchell McCleneghan
MI have most bases covered, but here are 3 areas of concern for the team ahead of the IPL 2021 auction.
#3 MI's spin department needs some bolstering
Krunal Pandya was used with caution in IPL 2020, and his only role in the team was to restrict the flow of runs. While Rahul Chahar started the tournament very well, his form dropped off towards the knockout stages and he was even dropped from the playing XI.
Jayant Yadav and Anukul Roy are other options on the bench, but there's no denying that MI need another quality spinner. With very few Indian options (Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh would be solid backups) available, MI could look to target an overseas spinner.
Interestingly, the team's most accomplished overseas spinner over the course of the IPL has been JP Duminy, who was a part-time option at best.
#2 MI might want to sign a backup pace-bowling all-rounder
Hardik Pandya didn't bowl in IPL 2020, but MI still managed to win the tournament with Kieron Pollard as the 6th bowling option. The same might not be possible this year, and MI might want to target a backup pace-bowling all-rounder.
Pandya has begun bowling, but it would be wise to ease him back into the scheme of things. Pollard, on the other hand, is far from a reliable part-timer, and MI also released Nathan Coulter-Nile and Sherfane Rutherford.
MI could target hometown boy Shivam Dube, who would be an excellent backup for Pandya. Even if they look at other options, it's clear that they need to sign a pace-bowling all-rounder in the IPL 2021 auction.
#1 MI's pace attack requires more depth
After releasing Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson, Mitchell McClenaghan and Lasith Malinga, MI have very few pace options on their roster. This is the department they need to bolster the most, with Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult and Dhawal Kulkarni being the only three fast bowlers part of the side at the moment.
MI could set their sights on experienced Indian pacers such as Umesh Yadav and Ankit Rajpoot, while overseas options like Sheldon Cottrell and Jhye Richardson may also be considered. Former player Mustafizur Rahman is another viable candidate to join the defending champions.