As the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway, we preview the teams in contention, analyse their past performances and look at the key players in the franchise. We start with defending champions Mumbai Indians.
Past performances: Mumbai Indians are among the most high- profile sides in the event. However, they haven’t always lived up to expectations. 2013 was an exception though. They were the best side in the event by some distance, and went on to clinch the title courtesy some excellent all-round performances. They played a total of 19 games and ended up winning 13 of them while losing only six. They finished runners-up in 2010, winning 11 of 16 games. In 2011 and 2012, they finished in third position. Their worst efforts came in 2008 and 2009, when they were 5th and 7th respectively, which means they have been a side on the rise since.
Lasith Malinga: The Sri Lankan fast bowler, who recently led his country to the World T20 title, has been one of the main factors why Mumbai Indians have been such a threat in the event. In fact, Malinga went on to admit after winning the World T20 final that playing the IPL was crucial to his success in the T20 event in Bangladesh. Much before he bowled India out of the final with his unplayable yorkers, he had done the same to many opponents in the IPL. Malinga’s strength is the accuracy with which he bowls those deliveries in the block hole. Buoyed by the World T20 triumph, Malinga would be confident of an encore in the IPL.
Rohit Sharma: He may still be falling short of expectations at the international level, but in the IPL he is one of best ever. He has brought his unbridled talent to the fore, hitting opponents out of matches with ease. Sharma has pulled off some stunning wins for Mumbai with his spectacular batting. His consistency has also been of the top level. It is too early to comment on his captaincy, but he must have done something right en route to leading Mumbai to victory last season.
Corey Anderson: A much-hyped buy, a lot of eyes will be on the New Zealand all-rounder during this IPL, just like it was on Glenn Maxwell last season. Although the left-hander couldn’t do much in the World T20 due to an injury, he is expected to be completely fit for the event. The man who holds the records for the fastest hundred in ODIs can hit the ball a long way, and at will. Also, he is a pretty hand medium pacer and a good fielder as well, making him the perfect T20 package for the Mumbai Indians.
Other important players: Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu and Michael Hussey.
Men who matter off the field
Head Coach: John Wright
Coach: Robin Singh
Assistant coach: Paras Mhambrey
Bowling coach: Shaun Pollock
Fielding coach: Jonty Rhodes
Mentor: Anil Kumble
--By A Cricket Analyst