The Mumbai Indians (MI) solidified their standing as the most decorated franchise in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) by winning their fifth title last year. They barely had to make any changes ahead of and during the IPL 2021 auction, and focused on plugging the few holes on their roster.
Nathan Coulter-Nile was brought back on a cheaper contract, while all-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Marco Jansen made their way to the side. Piyush Chawla was signed to beef up the spin department, while Arjun Tendulkar and Yudhvir Singh also saw the MI paddle raised when their names came up.
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
Among the above squad, Rohit Sharma, Aditya Tare, Ishan Kishan, Quinton de Kock and Chris Lynn are all capable of batting at the top of the order for MI.
In this article, we predict MI's opening combination for IPL 2021.
What did MI do in IPL 2020?
When Rohit was incapacitated, Ishan Kishan was promoted to the top of the order with Saurabh Tiwary batting at No. 4. Although Kishan was exceptional as an opener for MI alongside De Kock, the skipper took up his rightful place when he returned to the playing XI in the team's final group-stage game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Chris Lynn warmed the MI bench throughout IPL 2020, while Aditya Tare was never - and still isn't - in the reckoning for a place in the playing XI.
Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock likely to open the batting for MI in IPL 2021
There's no reason for MI to fix what isn't broken, and they should stick to the strategy that won them their 5th IPL win in such dominant fashion.
Although Chris Lynn is as destructive as they come on his day, he struggles against spin on slow tracks. With MI playing 5 games in Chennai, 4 in Delhi, 3 in Bangalore and 2 in Kolkata in IPL 2021, Lynn might be a liability at the top of the order. Moreover, De Kock should keep Lynn out of the team with his stellar performances for the side over the last couple of years.
Ishan Kishan is arguably better as an opener than at No. 4, but the positives of him batting in the middle order outweigh the negatives. Rohit is one of the best white-ball openers the game has ever seen even though he has batted at No. 3 for MI in the recent past, while De Kock has rarely been used in the middle order in limited-overs cricket.
MI could perhaps explore rotating Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan between No. 3 and No. 4, preserving a right-left combination depending upon which opener is dismissed first. Either way, Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock opening the batting will be an easy choice for MI.