Heavyweights Mumbai Indians come into IPL 2021 as reigning champions. Rohit Sharma's outfit have, by far, been one of the most consistent teams in the league. With less than a week to go before they lock horns with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the side will be keen on ironing out all the creases that were a cause of concern in the previous season.
Under Rohit Sharma's leadership, the Mumbai Indians have been a thoroughly formidable unit. The IPL 2021 auction saw them make some unexpected purchases.
Mumbai Indians have looked at lending depth to their overseas options by roping in the services of Kiwi pacer Adam Milne, followed by a splurge on Australian quick Nathan Coulter-Nile during the IPL 2021 auctions. All-rounder Jimmy Neesham and South Africa's Marco Jansen were their other international imports.
On paper, Mumbai Indians look a tough squad. However, some glaring issues in recent times have made them go off-colour at certain stages in the tournament. This article aims to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats ahead of their title defence.
Mumbai Indians in IPL 2021: Strengths
1. MI have enjoyed solid starts courtesy of a successful opening salvo
Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock have been instrumental in getting Mumbai off to breezy starts. Either batsman in his element is capable of dismantling the opposition during the powerplay period. This ensured the side has almost always managed to get off to fliers, setting the platform for a dependable middle-order to take over.
2. MI's middle-order is filled with proven matchwinners
Be it the calming yet dangerous presence of Suryakumar Yadav, the flamboyance of a young Ishan Kishan, the bludgeoning ability of Kieron Pollard, or the ever-reliable Pandya brothers, Mumbai Indians have seldom seen collapses.
Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav managing to place themselves at fifth and seventh place in the 'Most Runs' category in IPL 2020 is ample proof of the successes they have enjoyed in the middle.
Club this with the lower middle order comprising of Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya, Mumbai Indians are quite a handful to deal with as they tend to bat deeper even in the upcoming IPL 2021 season.
3. A pace attack for the ages
In Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, there's a blend of experience and youth, raw pace and guile, and not to mention the consistent wicket-taking abilities. The duo took second and third place among the bowlers with most wickets last season.
Bumrah, with an economy of 6.73, claimed 27 wickets, while Boult, on a marginally expenisive 7.97 RR, prized out 25 scalps. IPL 2021 will see them helm the bowling attack again.
MI in IPL 2021: Weaknesses
1. A relatively thin spin department
Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya may be their spin wizards. However, in the case of backup, Mumbai will struggle with a bit of inexperience. Jayant Yadav and Anukul Roy are largely inexperienced, and should either Chahar or Pandya prove to be expensive or have to nurse injuries, Mumbai Indians will fall short of firepower in the spin department at IPL 2021.
2. Managing Hardik Pandya's workload
When donning India colours, Hardik Pandya has been one of India's premium all-rounders but has been riddled with injuries in the recent past. Skipper Virat Kohli has spoken of managing the Baroda star's workload keeping in mind the larger picture, and Mumbai Indians will be wary of how much they can get out of the swashbuckling all-rounder on the field.
This may mean holding back on his bowling, and that might see Mumbai allowing teams to slink away, building better partnerships. Only time will tell how much of a setback this would be for Rohit Sharma & Co.