Dubai: There are no prizes for guessing that it will be a face-off between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings for the mantle of the most successful team in the history of the Indian Premier League. While Rohit Sharma’s blue-shirted men have won the IPL the most number of times (four titles), Chennai are one short – though they boast of the unique record of winning it back-to-back once in 2010-11.
It’s a feat that Rohit, the most successful IPL captain, will be setting his eyes on – riding on the back of a phenomenal 2019 with the bat which has seen him winning the country’s highest sporting honours (Rajiv Khel Ratna) only recently. However, the IPL title-race is as unpredictable and lengthy as they come, more so in the overseas conditions of the UAE where Mumbai will not have their famous home crowd support.
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Unlike India, the weather conditions will be pretty uniform in the three venues of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – though the wickets may offer a varying degree of bounce and get progressively slower as the long tournament trudges on for over 53 days. However, the strength of the Mumbai team – which lie in it’s core Indianness and uncapped players who have risen to the occasion time and again – can throw up surprise packages.
In the auctions held for 2020 season last December – when the dynamics were vastly different - Mumbai wisely signed two big names in Chris Lynn and Nathan Coulter-Nile, the two Australians who have been proven performers in T20 franchise cricket over the years. However, there will be a huge curiosity value about their three new signings – Mohsin Khan, Digvijay Deshmukh and Prince Balwant Rai Singh. They are young and raring to go, and it will be interesting to to see if one of them can be the next Jasprit Bumrah or Hardik Pandya.
Over the years, Mumbai have shown an unwavering faith in Lasith Malinga, the ageing veteran and the highest wicket-taker in the history of IPL with 170 wickets. The way he delivered in that final over against Chennai last year has gone into the history of the IPL folklore now and the good news for Mumbai fans is that he will be available from the first match after the cancellation of the Sri Lanka Premier League.
It remains to be seen if he still has some fire left in the belly – though they have firepower in the pace department with the vastly experienced Trent Boult, Coulter-Nile and their old hand Mitchell McCleneghan.
There could be the odd question mark over the absence of a big time spinner on the wickets of the UAE – though they have the likes of young leg spinner Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav and the frugal Krunal Pandya.
They can be often a slow starter, but you should count Mumbai out only at your own peril.
Main man: Rohit Sharma
Indian Premier League wins: 4 (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)
Champion LeagueT20 wins: 2 (2011, 2013)
Captain: Rohit Sharma
Owners: Mukesh Ambani, Nita Ambani, Reliance Industries Limited
Coaches: Mahela Jayawardene (Head coach), Shane Bond (Bowling coach)
Squad for IPL 2020
Rohit Sharma (c), Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell McCleneghan, Quinton de Kock, Rahul Chahar, Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult, Mohsin Khan, Digvijay Deshmukh, Prince Balwant Rai Singh, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary.