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Mission possible for Mumbai Indians


Sattwik Biswal,Cricketnext.com
Mar 26, 2012 at 10:06am IST

Profiling the fourth of nine IPL franchises ahead of the competition's fifth season, we take a look at Mumbai Indians who, though arguably the most balanced side, have often fell victim to their own big-stage nerves.

Having won the Champions League Twenty20 last year, they could come out a stronger unit in IPL 5. And, as always, there will be plenty of focus on their leader, Sachin Tendulkar.

IPL 5: Mission possible for Mumbai Indians

The Mumbai Indians are arguably the most balanced side with a mix of youth and experience, led by Sachin Tendulkar.

Name: Mumbai Indians

Captain: Sachin Tendulkar

Coach: Robin Singh

Owner: Reliance Industries Limited

Cost of team: $124 million

Key players: The Mumbai Indians are arguably the most balanced side with a mix of youth and experience, led by Sachin Tendulkar. The name itself is a comforting factor and Tendulkar's presence in the dressing room and on the field will inspire the youngsters in the fifth edition of the IPL.

Now that he is a relieved man after notching up that elusive 100th century, there is plenty of speculation as to how Tendulkar will bat in the IPL. Apart from Tendulkar, there are some dangerous batsmen in the Mumbai line-up, such as Kieron Pollard, Richard Levi, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu, who can up the ante when the situation demands it. Pollard and Levi will be Mumbai's trump cards in this edition and for these big-hitters any score or boundary will appear small on their day. Moreover, Rohit and Rayudu cannot be written off given their track record. Rohit is a proven Twenty20 match-winner and Rayudu, in IPL 4, impressed one and all with his stroke play and power hitting.

On the bowling front, in Lasith Malinga Mumbai have a specialist limited-overs bowler, who enjoys this format of the game. Their new signing Mitchell Johnson would be charged up to feature in his maiden IPL season, which could give him a chance to prove that his days are not yet numbered. Johnson can clock decent pace and would be an ideal new-ball combination with Malinga.

Munaf Patel brings in the variation and has the ability and skill to bowl in the death overs. The spin department will be taken care of by Harbhajan Singh, who in recent times he has lost that zip in his bowling. Harbhajan has spoken of how crucial Twenty20 is, and he will be out to reclaim his place in India's team with a strong IPL season.

During the transfer window, Mumbai made some smart moves and one of them was to purchase Pragyan Ojha. The left-arm spinner is effective in Twenty20 cricket with his nagging length and has a reputation of being a miserly bowler.

Strengths: Tendulkar is their biggest strength and the other players just have to play around him. Last season they were the most balanced side and looked good to lift the title, only to lose to Bangalore in the semi-final. This edition, the team has been strengthened with some value-additions in the form of key players.

Mumbai's batting is their forte and they have all the quality batsmen in the line-up to take the attack to the opposition. With Tendulkar as opener, followed by some exciting talents down the order, Mumbai is one of the teams to watch.

Weaknesses: Undoubtedly as a team, Mumbai plays as one unit and fights it hard on the field, but what it lacks is the ability to hold its nerves in crunch situations. For two successive seasons the team made it into the knock-out stage, where it failed collectively. In IPL 5, Mumbai need to change that trend.

2011 performance: Mumbai's campaign started off on a winning note against Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively. Tendulkar and Malinga stood out with their individual performances in this season – Tendulkar by scoring an impressive 513 runs from 10 matches and Malinga by taking 28 wickets from 15 matches. After getting past Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator round, they lost to Bangalore by 43 runs in the play-offs for the final but qualified for the Champions League Twenty20.

2012 prospects: Don't forget that Mumbai were the winners of the 2011 Champions League Twenty20, lead by Harbhajan Singh and in the absence of Tendulkar, Rohit and Munaf due to injuries.

Their bench strength is also encouraging with some young domestic players such as Suryakumar Yadav, T Suman, Dhawal Kulkarni and Sushant Marathe. As said earlier, Mumbai as a team have all the ingredients to lift the title this season provided they play to their strengths. Added to that they have a good support and is one of the most followed team that might work in their favour.

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