Where they finished in 2019: Champions, with a last-ball win over Chennai Super Kings in the final after having topped the league table.
Potential XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Ishan Kishan, 5 Krunal Pandya, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Rahul Chahar, 9 Mitchell McClenaghan/James Pattinson/Nathan Coulter-Nile, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Batting: With a solid top order and a power-packed middle order, Mumbai don’t have much to worry about. Sharma can continue to open with de Kock, who was their leading scorer last year, but Chris Lynn might have to wait, especially given his recent run of low scores and dismissals against spin (six out of nine) in the CPL – the pitches in the UAE are expected to be on the slower side. With Yadav at No. 3 followed by Kishan, the Pandya brothers and Pollard, they look pretty good even for slower tracks.
Bowling: Mumbai might miss Lasith Malinga, who is missing this IPL for personal reasons, because he might have proven even more dangerous than usual in the UAE with his experience and slower variations. He usually split the last four overs with Bumrah – this time Bumrah may either do Malinga’s job with Boult doing Bumrah’s, or Boult may just bowl the 18th and 20th overs with Bumrah sticking to his 17th and 19th overs.
Boult had a terrific IPL in 2018 for Delhi Daredevils, especially on the slow Feroz Shah Kotla tracks, and his death-overs record will give Mumbai confidence in Malinga’s absence.
For pace, they also have Coulter-Nile, who was bought for INR 8 crore ($1.1 million approx.), McClenaghan, Malinga’s replacement Pattinson, and Dhawal Kulkarni as options.
Unlike the other teams, Mumbai lack a big-name T20 spinner in the squad. Krunal and Chahar will be expected to do the bulk of the heavy lifting and should they need a third spinner in the XI, they could leave out one of the overseas quicks for left-arm spinner Anukul Roy or the offspin of Jayant Yadav. Mumbai may also consider Pollard, who proved handy on slower tracks in the CPL, for a bigger role with the ball.
Young player to watch out for: Mumbai have a habit of throwing unknowns at their oppositions and they have two young spinners for that sort of plan: left-arm spinner Anukul Roy and legspinner Prince Balwant Rai. Roy, from Jharkhand, played the 2018 Under-19 World Cup but is still an unknown entity in the IPL with only one game under his belt. Rai, 21, is yet to make his debut in senior cricket after playing for Punjab at the junior level.
With spin expected to play a major role this time, Roy could come on against the right-hand batsmen, and Rai might get at least a few chances to show off what he has.
Coaching staff: Mahela Jayawardene (head coach), Zaheer Khan (director of cricket operations), Shane Bond (bowling coach), Robin Singh (batting coach), James Pamment (fielding coach).
With inputs from Shiva Jayaraman