Just like the past seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL), a lot will be expected from the defending champions - Mumbai Indians in the upcoming edition of the T20 extravaganza which will kick-off on April 7 at the Wankhede stadium. One of the most successful franchises in IPL history, Mumbai have lifted the coveted trophy thrice, which makes them the most successful team of the tournament.
Compared to their 2017 team, Mumbai Indians will have a fairly new look side which will take the field under the leadership of Rohit Sharma to defend the crown they won last season. They have kept just six out of the 18 players who turned out in the blue jersey last year. Along with skipper Rohit, batting all-rounder Hardik Pandya and yorker king Jasprit Bumrah were retained by the MI team management in the first-ever player retention event in January. Later, they used the Right to Match (RTM) Card to keep all-rounders Kieron Pollard and the uncapped Indian player Krunal Pandya in their side.
Other than their core squad, the men in blue had to work really hard to cobble up a squad that can present other sides a challenge. The MI management went all out to secure the services of West Indies left-handed opener Evin Lewis and young India wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan and local lad Suryakumar Yadav. However, they had to let go of some of the key players like - Nitish Rana, Harbhajan Singh and Mitchell McClenaghan who played a handy role in Mumbai's success in the last edition.
Let's take a look at their strengths, weaknesses and the complete squad ahead of IPL 2018.
Mumbai Indians Strengths
Mumbai's biggest strength lies in the number of all-rounders that they have in their squad. In form of - Kieron Pollard and JP Duminy, the defending champs possess some of the biggest names of world cricket who have the ability to play the role of game-changer both with the bat and bowl. Whereas, the presence of Indian duo of Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya also adds more depth to the side.
Another strong department is their bowling, especially the left-arm seamers. Mustafizur Rahman, Jason Behrendroff and Pradeep Sangwan would come handy for the defending champions. Apart from them, the presence of Australian speedster Pat Cummins will give the MI an edge over the rest.
Mumbai Indians Weakness
Unlike the previous seasons, the MI think-tank have failed this year to provide themselves with a formidable bench strength, especially on the batting front. MI have always been known for their power-hitters and attacking batsmen, but in this edition of the league, they lack some depth in their batting department. They desperately need to focus is on making a perfect opening combination. New recruit Ishan Kishan has the experience of opening the batting but it would be a headache for the team management to provide him with a partner until and unless Rohit Sharma decides to promote himself up the order. Also, the inexperienced spin bowling component can be a worry for Rohit's men, unless the little-known bowlers can spring some surprises.
Mumbai Indians Complete Squad
Rohit Sharma (C), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mustafizur Rehman, Pat Cummins, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar, Evin Lewis, Saurabh Tiwary, Ben Cutting, Pradeep Sangwan, JP Duminy, Jason Behrendoff, Tajinder Singh Dhillon, Sharad Lumba, Siddesh Lad, Tare, Mayank Markande, Akila Dhananjaya, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, Nidheesh