The Mumbai Indians (MI) are the most decorated franchise in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Rohit Sharma's side have been so dominant in the IPL that they've racked up five titles and established themselves as one of the greatest T20 teams the world has ever seen.
The Indian team has reached the final of a T20 World Cup in the last decade and has been competitive in most other editions of the prestigious shortest-format tournament. The 2021 T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place this summer, and Kohli's men are definitely one of the favourites for the competition.
This leads us to ask a very pertinent question - how would a hypothetical T20 series between MI and the Indian cricket team turn out? To state the obvious, there are a number of key players common to both teams - Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah. Recently, even Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar played for the national team.
MI could definitely give India a run for their money. Here are 3 reasons why the 5-time IPL champions could beat the national team in a hypothetical T20 series.
#3 MI have four all-rounders in their playing XI
Over the last few years, the Indian cricket team has struggled to strike the right balance in their playing XI, especially in the T20 format. They've tried a number of pace-bowling all-rounders like Vijay Shankar and Shivam Dube, who've been largely unimpressive on the international stage.
Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja have emerged as the primary saving graces for India in the all-rounders department, while others like Washington Sundar have been a regular part of the team. But the problem remains - India's batsmen can't bowl and their bowlers can't bat.
MI, on the other hand, have no such issues. Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Marco Jansen and Jimmy Neesham have ensured that all bases are covered when it comes to all-rounders. While Pollard bowled a couple of tight overs in the previous game and won the Man of the Match award, Jansen has impressed in his first introduction to IPL cricket.
Whoever plays among Coulter-Nile, Jansen and Neesham will add great depth to the batting lineup while maintaining sufficient bowling resources, and India don't have the same luxury.
#2 The Indian cricket team would kill for MI's overseas players
Unlike MI, India obviously cannot field overseas players in their XI. And MI's overseas players are arguably better options than their counterparts in the Indian team.
In Quinton de Kock, MI have one of the best openers in the world. He has struck a fruitful partnership with Rohit Sharma and is probably a better T20 batsman than the MI captain's usual national opening partner Shikhar Dhawan. De Kock's style also perfectly complements Rohit as he doesn't take too long to get his eye in.
Kieron Pollard's game has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, especially since being handed the reins of the West Indies white-ball sides. He struck six sixes in an over earlier this year, and has played a number of match-winning innings for both franchise and country. India's middle order, meanwhile, has been shuffled endlessly since the 2015 50-over World Cup.
Trent Boult, one of the best exponents of the new ball, is also a handy operator at the death. While India's other pace options in Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur are superb in their own right, they don't add the variety and wicket-taking threat that the Kiwi boasts of.
Similarly, Coulter-Nile, Jansen, Neesham all add value to any side they're part of. Adam Milne is an express pacer, and the kind of bowler India have never had. Chris Lynn is another destructive opener who, even if he won't make the Indian XI, will be an excellent option on the bench in the T20I format.
MI's overseas players are all world-class, and India would kill for the services of such seasoned professionals.
#1 Rohit Sharma's captaincy
While Virat Kohli has an excellent win-loss record with the Indian team, his captaincy has found itself under the microscope on a number of occasions. Often making inexplicable bowling changes and selection decisions, the Indian skipper has divided opinion since taking over from MS Dhoni.
Rohit Sharma, who serves as Kohli's deputy in the limited-overs formats, has carved a niche for himself as one of the most astute cricketing brains in the game right now. With five IPL titles and an all-time high in win-loss% to show for, the MI captain has been impeccable as a leader.
More tellingly, Rohit has been able to get the best out of the players at his disposal, largely due to his clear thinking and backing a select few to the hilt. The likes of Bumrah, Hardik, Krunal, Chahar, Suryakumar and Kishan have all made the national team thanks to the 33-year-old's ability to push them to the next level.
Kohli too has played a role in the development of a few key players like Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar and Mohammed Siraj. But Chahal and Siraj aren't first-choice in T20Is, leading fans to ask whether Kohli's success as captain is limited to the Test format.
Rohit Sharma would certainly have the edge over Virat Kohli in the captaincy department in a hypothetical T20I series between MI and India. This might prove to be the most telling difference between the two sides, as the success of all great teams is derived from their leader.