Predicted Playing XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock* (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard*, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile*, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult*
Substitutes (by order of playing XI chances): Jayant Yadav, Chris Lynn*, Anukul Roy, Mitchell McClenaghan*, James Pattinson*, Saurabh Tiwary, Mohsin Khan, Prince Balwant Rai, Aditya Tare (wk), Dhawal Kulkarni, Anmolpreet Singh, Digvijay Deshmukh, Sherfane Rutherford*
Vulnerable Spots: Trent Boult & Ishan Kishan
Trent Boult – Given how big a name Trent Boult is, Mumbai Indians will definitely hand him a start. But if the 31-year-old continues to perform as badly as he has in the last 3 years of the IPL (52 runs per wicket in the Powerplay and 10.5 runs per wicket at the death), his spot could soon come under threat.
With options as attractive as Mitchell McClenaghan and James Pattinson on the bench and decks in the UAE expected to offer more assistance to spin than pace, Boult has his task cut out to retain his spot in the XI.
To put this in context, the league’s best bowler in the phase McClenaghan gets a wicket every 16.6 balls followed by Umesh Yadav (18.7) and Deepak Chahar (20.6).
Potential replacements for the spot: Mitchell McClenaghan, James Pattinson, Anukul Roy
Ishan Kishan – Ishan Kishan is one of India’s most exciting batting talents, but his returns at the No. 4 role for Mumbai Indians haven’t lived up to expectations. In overs 13 to 16, Kishan has an average of 11.9 in the last three seasons. This is one of the reasons why the 22-year-old wasn’t given a full season last year. Unless Kishan hits the ground running in the first half of the tournament, the franchise could soon start looking for alternate options.
Potential replacements for the spot: Anukul Roy, Saurabh Tiwary, Aditya Tare
Rohit-de Kock or de Kock-Lynn – Which pair will the management choose to open?
Despite the inclusion of Chris Lynn, Mumbai Indians are likely to start with Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock as their opening pair again. Here is what works against Lynn opening:
Mumbai have fielded two overseas pacers in their XI for six seasons with success. There is no reason to change it this year. With two overseas spots locked there and one more in Kieron Pollard, the defending champions can’t play both Lynn and de Kock in their XI.
Therefore, if a choice has to be made between the two, de Kock, courtesy of being the leading run-scorer for the franchise in 2019 (529 runs at an average of 35 and strike rate of 133) and their first-choice wicketkeeper, will get the nod.
Rohit pushed himself back to opening in 2019 after a couple of disappointing seasons down the order. Having crossed the 400-run mark for the first time since 2017, he would not want to go down the middle-order route again to accommodate Lynn.
What is the fantasy value against Mumbai Indians?
Based on how a team is set up, you can play certain types of players against it to get your fantasy value. When it comes to Mumbai Indians, legspin is the most effective bowling option against their batting unit.
Top 3 legspin options against Mumbai Indians (since 2017): Rashid Khan (6 wickets at 4.7 RPO), Imran Tahir (11 wickets at 8.2 RPO), Yuzvendra Chahal (8 wickets at 8.5 RPO)
Fantasy Ranking Order
1. Hardik Pandya – Since 2017, Hardik Pandya is the third-highest run-scorer (912) for Mumbai Indians, and amongst players who have played a minimum of 5 innings, also has the highest batting average (36.48) and strike rate (161.4).
On the bowling front, the 26-year-old has the second-highest number of wickets (38), and among those who have bowled 35 overs or more, has the second-best strike rate (a wicket every 17.6 balls). If Pandya stays fit, this could be yet another blockbuster season.
2. Jasprit Bumrah – Death bowling is minimum guarantee from a fantasy point of view, and it reflects in Mumbai Indians’ first choice death bowler, Jasprit Bumrah’s wickets column too. The 26-year-old is the highest wicket-taker in the Indian Premier League since 2017 (56 wickets at an average of 21.8 and an economy rate of 7).
3. Krunal Pandya – 2019 was Krunal Pandya’s weakest season in the IPL (with his runs coming at an IPL all-time low of 1.22 runs per ball and 28 runs per wickets), and yet he scored 183 runs and picked up 12 wickets.
Unless the dip in batting returns is an indicator of a permanent decline, the 29-year-old is amongst the safest choices in the team. That slightest bit of uncertainty is why he is behind Bumrah in the ranking order despite his all-round value.
4. Rohit Sharma – Promoting himself back up the order, Rohit Sharma crossed the 400-run mark for the first time in 3 years in 2019. The Mumbai Indians is expected to open the innings again with Rohit, making him a reliable fantasy option.
5. Suryakumar Yadav – Since Suryakumar Yadav’s switch to Mumbai Indians in 2018, he has been the leading run-scorer for the franchise (936 runs at an average of 35 and strike rate of 132). The next best is Rohit, with 691 runs to his name in the last two seasons.
Set to bat No. 3 again, the 29-year-old is as reliable as they come in terms of fantasy potential.
6. Rahul Chahar – Rahul Chahar was the third-most economical bowler (47 overs at an economy rate of 6.6) in IPL 2019, of those who bowled a minimum of 20 overs. But from a fantasy point of view, he picks up a wicket once in 21.7 deliveries – 5th among the league’s leading wristspinners – which is a concern.
Chahar’s lack of wickets is largely a result of how defensively Mumbai use him: 39 of the 47 overs he bowled last year were in the 7-15 over phase, a period where most teams try to preserve their wickets.
7. Quinton de Kock – Quinton de Kock might have racked up 529 runs last season, but in an edition where spinners are expected to dominate, his returns against slow bowling doesn’t inspire confidence. The South African international would be further down the list if not for his wicketkeeping points.
8. Kieron Pollard – The highest Kieron Pollard could bat is No. 5, and he would be competing with Hardik Pandya, one of the league’s most consistent and dangerous middle-order players, for game-time.
In addition to it, the West Indies international hasn’t bowled a single ball for Mumbai Indians in the last two seasons, further affecting his fantasy points scoring potential. Given his potential, one could still get value, but one should not overestimate his scope.
9. Nathan Coulter Nile – Nathan Coulter Nile, at his best, could turn out to be one of the best differentials picks this tournament. However, given the uncertainty over the 32-year-old’s bowling form (averages 30 runs per wicket this year, his highest in 4 years) and also quite injury-prone, puts him only at 9th spot ahead of the season. The order could change based on how well he bowls in the first couple of matches.
10. Trent Boult – Refer to the “vulnerable spots” section of the article.
11. Ishan Kishan – Refer to the “vulnerable spots” section of the article.
Season Picks - Bankers, steals, and differentials:
Top banker: Hardik Pandya
Top differential: Nathan Coulter-Nile
Top steal: Nathan Coulter-Nile