Mumbai Indians (MI) have achieved unparalleled success in the history of the tournament. In 13 years, they have as many as five titles to their credit. The achievement seems all the more incredible once placed in context. MI had nothing to show for their efforts from 2008 to 2012, implying they have won five in the eight seasons thereafter- how is that for domination!
Several commentators, most famously former England captain Michael Vaughan, have deemed the side capable enough to beat Team India if they were to face off against them. Thus, after an almost perfect campaign in 2020, the team would look to repeat or even come out with a stronger performance this year, sensing a historic hat-trick of titles at the outset.
Before the action kicks off and the players from the side showcase their talents, let's have a look at their strongest possible Playing XI:
1. Rohit Sharma (c)
Skipper Rohit Sharma will be right up there at the top of the order. Although he hasn't been quite at his best in the last few seasons now, he quietly produces an innings or two in the season and steps up when it's the big day. The Hitman did just that in IPL 2020 raising his game for the final and helped MI record a memorable win in the titular clash. If Rohit can go on to have a great season, it will mean a sixth and a hat-trick are definitely on the cards for MI. Add to that his leadership skills and he becomes a super valuable member of the team.
2. Quinton de Kock (wk)
Along with Rohit, it will be South Africa's Quinton de Kock. The left-handed batsman is capable of taking the attack to the opposition and even batting deep into the innings, whatever the situation demands from him. Over the last two seasons, de Kock and Rohit have formed a great opening combo for the five-time champions and they would not want to change them for no reason at all. They not only provide the left and right hand partnership at the top but also complement each other's style of play.
3. Suryakumar Yadav
At number 3 will be MI's dependable Suryakumar Yadav. SKY has been scoring runs for fun in all kinds of domestic tournaments and showcasing his skills to the world in the IPL, finally leading up to his maiden innings in international cricket in which he showed that he was ready for the next level. Another crucial season awaits for Suryakumar as selectors will keep an eye on him for a potential place in the T20 World Cup squad.
4. Ishan Kishan
Known as the 'Pocket Dynamo', Ishan Kishan also announced his arrival in international cricket in some style in the recently concluded T20Is against England. Kishan was superb for the team last season and was even tried in various positions fitting in each one of them with ease and grace. The southpaw would yet again be the key to MI's middle overs this year. He will also be keen to guarantee a place for himself in the T20 World Cup and would look to make the most of his time at MI.
5. Hardik Pandya
Number 5, 6 and 7 are often described as teams' engine room. The players here are the reason why the team end up winning so many of their games and importantly they can bat at any position depending on the situation of the game. Hardik Pandya is a runaway match winner at this position. He can score runs at a really brisk pace and almost demoralise the bowlers with some of his big hits. He is coming into this tournament as an all-rounder and will add massive value to the squad.
6. Kieron Pollard
Another big name in the team is that of the West Indies captain Kieron Pollard. The name which can intimidate the bowlers with just his presence on the pitch is Pollard. His big strength is the power he generates while hitting the ball. Fresh from hitting six sixes in an over not long ago, who knows, he can perhaps break a few more such records in this year's IPL. Depending upon the situation, one can see Pollard bat as high as number 4 in the batting order.
7. Krunal Pandya
Then comes Krunal Pandya and on occasions he will join the big hitting party too making the team such a formidable unit. The duo of the Pandya brothers means the MI hit more boundaries than any other team in the death overs. Moreover, all of them, if fit, will allow a bowling option to skipper Rohit a massive advantage on a day when one or two bowlers are having a bad day. Krunal is also coming on the back of a good debut in the ODI series although he wasn't that effective with the ball.
8. Nathan Coulter-Nile
Coulter-Nile at number 8- talk about depth in the batting order!! Even Coulter-Nile can smash a few sixes, if they find themselves with a bit of work to do, he can be a handy bet. Along with that in wickets like the one in Chennai, Coulter-Nile could be a great option with the ball and might get the place ahead of somebody like Adam Milne.
9. Rahul Chahar
The leg-spinner will walk into the team's XI based on his performances over the years. He has not only managed to pick up wickets but even kept things under control when a bowling partner has done well from the other end. However, this season could be his test with more batsmen having decoded how he bowls and the kind of variations he has and it would be interesting to see, if he manages to take his game to the next level.
10. Trent Boult
Boult proved out to be a fantastic addition to their squad last season. The left-arm pacer even makes Jasprit Bumrah's job easier as he can now bowl upfront, leaving Bumrah to focus more on the death overs. Boult provided Mumbai with the breakthroughs in the powerplay overs many times during the last season which made it easier for others to execute their plans. His form could be critical again this year.
11. Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah will make a return to action after his wedding and would look to start from where he had left last season. He has been an absolute match-winner for the franchise ever since he made his debut in 2013. 8 years down the line, Bumrah will spearhead the bowling attack and is being regarded as one of the best in the world. Although he took his time to get his form initially last season, this year could be different and if that happens, who knows MI might as well start winning from their first match this season.