The Mumbai Indians (MI) are the most decorated franchise in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The 5-time champions extended their lead at the top when they won the coveted trophy last year, and erased any doubts over their ability to defend their crown.
Just like last season, MI are the firm favourites heading into IPL 2021. Rohit Sharma's side were relatively unchallenged throughout last year's campaign and most of their players enter this tournament in good form. They have a great chance to become the first franchise to win three consecutive IPL trophies.
MI's squad for IPL 2021: 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, Adam Milne, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Marco Jansen, Yudhvir Singh, James Neesham, Arjun Tendulkar
In this article, we'll discuss three reasons why the Mumbai Indians will win IPL 2021.
#3 Smart auction purchases
Although MI were the strongest side last year, they still had a few holes to fill before the start of the new season. The biggest one by far was the thin spin-bowling department, with Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav and Anukul Roy being the only options at Rohit Sharma's disposal.
The MI team management, as always, was clever in bringing in IPL veteran Piyush Chawla to beef up the spin department. Although Chawla's stock has been on the decline for the past two seasons, the 32-year-old will provide invaluable depth and experience to the team. He can also guide fellow leg-spinner Chahar, and the competition for places will undoubtedly raise the youngster's game.
The Mumbai Indians bought back Nathan Coulter-Nile on a reduced contract. They also added Kiwi express quick Adam Milne (INR 3.2 crore), James Neesham (INR 50 lakh) and rookies Yudhvir Charak, Marco Jansen and Arjun Tendulkar (INR 20 lakh each).
Milne provides great depth to the MI pace attack. Neesham is a great alternative to Coulter-Nile, especially if Hardik Pandya is fit enough to bowl a few overs.
#2 MI have a balanced squad for IPL 2021
Balance is everything in modern T20 cricket. Teams like the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and the Punjab Kings (PKBS), who've had a plethora of superstars play for them, have struggled in the IPL because of a lack of balance.
The Mumbai Indians have it in abundance, starting with the left-right opening combination. Quinton de Kock is tasked with getting the team off to a flying start while Rohit Sharma anchors the innings.
They are followed by Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan, both of whom scored 450+ runs at a strike rate of over 140 in IPL 2020. That's a very strong top order, comprising of two left-handers and two right-handers.
They are followed by two of the best finishers in Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard, who also provide the team with 6th and 7th bowling options. Krunal Pandya, a left-hander, rounds off a strong lower-middle order. Both Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jimmy Neesham can hold their own at No. 8 depending on who plays.
In the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult (again a left-right combination) can regularly pick up wickets in the powerplay and at the death. Rahul Chahar (or new acquisition Piyush Chawla) will be the team's wicket-taking leg-spinner, while Krunal Pandya is the designated defensive spinner.
All these factors make the Mumbai Indians the most balanced side in the league, and hence the favourites.
#1 Winning mentality
While this is a more intangible reason than the other two, it is just as, if not more, important.
The Mumbai Indians have developed a healthy habit of winning, which is the hallmark of all the great sides in cricket history. Under the extraordinary leadership of Rohit Sharma, the franchise has won five of the last eight editions of the IPL and doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Although the last campaign was fairly comfortable for them, MI are known for pulling victories out of the bag when the odds are stacked against them.
Whether it was defending a lowly 129 runs against the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) in the IPL 2017 final or securing playoff qualification by chasing 190 in 14.3 overs against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the final league match of IPL 2014, tales depicting MI's never-say-die attitude are an integral part of IPL folklore.
In a tournament where many franchises have failed to find the killer edge when it matters the most, MI have regularly managed to do so. They have lost just one of their six IPL finals, and the franchise just brims with confidence right from the team management to the players.
This winning culture augurs well for MI's chances of winning the IPL for a record sixth time.