Dubai: Defending champions Mumbai Indians have urged a fresh thought process in the ranks as they prepare for their Indian Premier League (IPL) opener against the Chennai Super Kings, in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
The Mumbai Indians are the most successful team in the competition with four titles, portraying their years of planning, a systematic strengthening of squad and most importantly, their ability to manage resources intelligently.
But, until now they have never managed to accomplish back-to-back IPL titles, unlike their Saturday opponents, who are the only side so far with consecutive crowns that they won in 2010 and 2011.
Both captain and coach of the Indians have insisted on a refreshed view going into the 13th edition of the eight-team competition.
“The team and thought process is totally different from the 2014 squad in the UAE. I think we did well when we came back to India. The past performances won’t play much of a part now. Only myself, [Kieron] Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah were in the squad then. We want to put up a good performance and start well,” captain Rohit Sharma insisted at the preseason conference held on Thursday.
Mumbai Indians’ four titles all have come in alternate years starting in 2013, then in 2015, 2017 and 2019. So the question is whether they can get lucky for the fourth time based on the resources that they have at their disposal. Be it the top order, raw hitting power in the middle or their fast bowlers, they seem to have it all.
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“The idea is to keep all options open. I personally enjoy at the top of the batting order, and that’s what I did the entire last season. It’s the same when I play for India. So, having options is always great as it gives us the flexibility,” Rohit said.
Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene, who took over as coach last season, sounded a similar note. “The combination of Rohit [Sharma] and Quinton [De Kock] has been both phenomenal and consistent for us, as both are good cricketers with an abundance of experience and true leaders on and off the field,” the 43-year-old said.
“Having other options will always give us added flexibility as we can add a bit more value and bring in a bit more unpredictability in the side. Both [Rohit and Quinton] complement each other really well at the top. Why would you fix something that isn’t broken?”
With limited finances during the December 2019 auction, Mumbai Indians have done well to bring in Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Lynn as possible replacements for Lasith Malinga who pulled out due to personal reasons. However, one of their weak links is the absence of a real world-class spinner.
“It’s hard to fill Malinga’s boots. He has been a match-winner for us,” said Rohit. “I have said this many times, whenever we have been in trouble, he has always been there. It’s unfortunate that he isn’t a part of our squad. We’ve got guys like Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pattinson, Mohsin to replace him. What Malinga has done is incomparable. But, the guys who are coming in don’t need to carry much baggage and perform according to the role.”
Jayawardene added: “Going out and executing and pushing yourself is important. We have some highly-skilled cricketers, but going out and performing is important. The guys have been working really hard over the last two weeks.”
The Mumbai squad of domestic players had some really good practices and training sessions back home prior to arrival in the UAE. “They had enough time in the middle, but perhaps, we had to stimulate some match simulations for them. On the other hand, some of the overseas players didn’t have much of cricket, but I feel all of them are now on the same page,” the coach added.
“Now we have to get mentally ready for that first game. We are prepared and ready to go,” Rohit chipped in.
CATCH THE MATCH
MUMBAI INDIANS v CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Broadcast on BeIN Sports