Why change a winning combination, is a common theory we get to hear in a team sport. The Mumbai Indians have taken the axiom a little too earnestly by re-signing 11 players for IPL 7 from last year’s squad that finally brought home the silverware after six attempts. While there’s nothing wrong with that, the theory of sticking to winning combinations more often than not works during a lengthy league or a tournament and not necessarily from one season to the other.
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There are other things that need to be factored in. Like the form and fitness of key players heading into the season. For instance, coach John Wright and mentor Anil Kumble would desperately want to know how well has Kieron Pollard recovered from a knee injury (sustained while playing a charity football match) that kept him out of cricket for six months.
While they will be heartened to hear that the Trinidadian power house has struck a hundred in a three-day Caribbean first-class game against Jamaica, they would want to know if he is still as athletic in the outfield and will be game to send down four overs given the nature of injury. That, of course, remains to be seen.
Then there’s the case of Corey Anderson. The New Zealander is nursing an injured finger and there is a question mark over his availability for the UAE leg.
The MI management may have entrenched their faith in the core group of their side by retaining Rohit Sharma (captain), Lasith Malinga, Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu, but their bowling does appear to be over-reliant on Sri Lankan slinger Lasith Malinga.
There’s a belief that Malinga and Zaheer Khan will lend balance to the attack, but the latter, at 35, seems to be over the hill. It’s a mystery why MI, despite their deep pockets, did not hold on to a hot property like Mitchell Johnson.
The arrival of Mike Hussey will bolster the batting that is void of big names. Nicknamed Mr. Cricket, the Aussie pro is someone whom MI can count on even as the likes of Rayudu, Aditya Tare, Rohit and Pollard will look to bat around the veteran.
As far as the spin department goes, MI will hold their own with Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha in business.
Mumbai Indians squad for IPL 7: Rohit Sharma (c), Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu (wk), Michael Hussey, Corey Anderson, Aditya Tare, CM Gautham, Ben Dunk, Sushant Marathe, Apoorv Wankhede, Jalaj Saxena, Pragyan Ojha, Shreyas Gopal, Zaheer Khan, Jasprit Bumrah, Josh Hazlewood, Krishmar Santokie, Marchant de Lange, Pawan Suyal