Mumbai Indians 2020 squad
Mumbai Indians 2020 squad
Photo Credit: Mumbai Indians/Twitter

Such has been Mumbai Indians' success that there are now calls for Rohit Sharma to replace Virat Kohli as the captain of the Indian T20I team. The team have won all four of their titles in the years since Rohit took over as captain, and have been in contention in almost every season since 2013.

They won the 2019 finals over the other ever-present contender, CSK, by one run, marking the third time that MI has beaten CSK in the IPL finals. The two teams are expected to go head-to-head every year, and this upcoming season should be no different.

Mumbai have done well in this off-season, they have retained their core, releasing overpaid and underperfoming players, and have traded for some IPL-proven players.

So, what will they be looking to address in December's auction? Let's find out.

Strengths

Jasprit Bumrah.

Let's move on to their weaknesses now.

But seriously, the presence of Bumrah will be the biggest strength for this Mumbai team. He rose up to the national team because of strong performances for MI, but the lanky pacer's stature has grown massively since the end of the last IPL season. After winning Man-of-the-Match for his 2-14 in that nail-biter of a final, he went on to dominate at the World Cup, and has then shattered records for India in ODIs and Tests. He's become one of the most feared bowlers in the world, and not one player in the IPL is going to want to face him.

Moving on, MI will continue to have Rohit Sharma's talismanic presence at the top of the order, and they will hope he can carry some of his International form into the tournament. He too has had a terrific year since the last season, and with him in this side, the batting unit will always be explosive. It helps too that they also retained Quinton de Kock, Kieron Pollard, and the currently on-fire Suryakumar Yadav.

The last one there has been tearing it up in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and he will be looking to have a massive year in the IPL.

And then, if that's not enough, they have Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya as all-rounders. This team is a juggernaut.

MI has also traded for Trent Boult, who will likely form a lethal new ball partnership with Bumrah, and together, the pair will threaten to end matches before they can even begin. The main headache for Mumbai will be who to field between Malinga, Boult, and Mitchell McClenaghan. Dhawal Kulkarni was also a smart addition as a backup for Jasprit Bumrah.

Weaknesses

It's hard to find weaknesses in this unit, because the core they have is exceptionally strong. They had lacked a backup Indian pacer to come in if Bumrah was hurt or rested, but Kulkarni's addition gives them a good option there.

The only thing they don't have at the moment is a game-changing spinner. Spinners, and particularly leg-spinners, have become a top commodity in the IPL, with their penchant for wicket-taking and economy. Just look at the successes of players like Rashid Khan, Imran Tahir, Yuzvendra Chahal or Kuldeep Yadav for proof of that. Mumbai don't have anyone of that nature in their squad, which could come back to bite them if they don't address the hole in the auction.

Rahul Chahar is their current leg-spinning option, and while he is a good player, Mumbai will need him to up his performances in the upcoming season. In addition to him, Mumbai have the services of Krunal Pandya and his slow left-arm bowling. It's not much of a weakness, but spin bowling is definitely an area that Mumbai could improve upon.

Opportunities

Mumbai released 12 players last month, including names like Ben Cutting, Evin Lewis, Adam Milne, Jason Behrendorff, and 6-wicket hero Alzarri Joseph. They did so because their bowling unit is fairly tight, and these names weren't contributing too much. But what this leaves them with is ample space to bring in new young players. While their core is set, and whoever they bring in isn't likely to see much playing time, there's no harm in scouting young talent.

That's how they got Bumrah, and that's how they'll find more like him. At present, they have Ishan Kishan and Anmolpreet Singh waiting in the wings. Ishan played 7 matches last season, but wasn't convincing. This year, he will be looking to break out in a big way.

Anmolpreet Singh, on the other hand, has yet to feature for MI. He has been tearing it up in domestic cricket - he average 58.2 in first class cricket, after 20 matches - but has yet to make an impact in T20s, where his strike rate is a particularly concerning 106. If he can translate his 4-day form into this format, then Mumbai will have a very talented player on their hands.

Threats

As I've said a couple times, this is a strong squad. There's very little that it cannot do. But that said, any injury or rest for Bumrah will leave MI shorthanded in the bowling department. While Dhawal Kulkarni is a better backup option than Barinder Sran, he is still a long way short of being Jasprit Bumrah. Expect a steep dropoff in bowling efficiency when Bumrah isn't playing.

And while MI have strong overseas options, they are going to have trouble selecting lineups. With as many talented players as they have, it's going to be difficult for them to select the right ones every match.

Can Pollard be relied on for every game this year? He had a poor IPL last season, until the finals, and in general seems to have tailed off in recent years. If he starts poorly, he should be dropped. MI have good players waiting for a chance, and they shouldn't stick with Pollard if he doesn't start off hot.

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