The Mumbai Indians reached their nadir in IPL 2022. The most decorated franchise in the tournament won just four games all season, finishing with the wooden spoon for the first time in their history. However, if we know anything about the Mumbai Indians or the Ambani family, it’s that failure isn’t an option, and we can expect a strong response from the five-time champions next season.

Looking at their mega auction strategy, it was apparent the Mumbai Indians have prioritised 2023 and 2024 more than this season. However, considering the emergence of new powerhouses such as Gujarat Titans and Rajasthan Royals, the stakes have been raised for this strategy to pay off in the coming years.

Here we attempt to answer how Mumbai are likely to look next season and whether the new and improved side can go all the way in IPL 2023?

Who will be released?

Amongst their 2022 playing squad, Kieron Pollard (6 Cr), Sanjay Yadav (50L), Tymal Mills (1.5 Cr), Murugan Ashwin (1.6 Cr), and Fabian Allen (75L) will likely be released. Most of these players were either mediocre or hardly featured and can be easily replaced at next year’s auction.

Kieron Pollard in IPL 2022: Runs – 144, Balls – 134, Avg – 14.4, SR – 107.5, Dot % – 47

The big talking point amongst the releases for Mumbai is Pollard. It might be difficult for MI to let him go for sentimental reasons considering his legendary status in the franchise. However, considering his age and poor returns this year, they should not let Pollard stick around at the 6 Cr price.

Given these releases and the additional 5 Cr gained from the increase in the auction purse, Mumbai will have around 15-16 Cr to play with next February to build a winning squad.

What will the XI look like?

What they start with: Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Player X, Tim David*, Daniel Sams, Jofra Archer*, Player Y, Kumar Kartikeya, Jasprit Bumrah

At the top of the order, the opening combination is unlikely to change. Mumbai have invested over Rs. 31 Cr and nearly 1/3rd of their purse on their opening partnership, and despite their apparent shortcomings, Ishan and Rohit will face the new ball in 2023.

Moving on to the middle order, Mumbai have the incredible luxury of fielding four domestic batters in the top four, with Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma coming in at nos. 3 and 4. Yadav is Mumbai’s best T20 batter and needs to bat as many balls as possible, while Varma has to be used at number four due to his astonishing ability to take on spin and slight weakness against pace. Anything lower than No.4 will result in him facing a lot of pace overs, thereby limiting his impact on the game.

  • Tilak Varma in IPL 2022 vs Pace: Runs – 189, Balls – 162, Avg – 21, SR – 117, Dot % – 42
  • Tilak Varma in IPL 2022 vs Spin: Runs – 186, Balls – 126, Avg – 186, SR – 148, Dot % – 17.5

The Indian top-order allows Mumbai to pack the middle order with explosive overseas six-hitting talent, and MI will likely field Dewald Brevis, Tim David, and Daniel Sams at five, six and seven, respectively. David has done enough to prove that he should start every MI fixture for this entire auction cycle; however, Brevis and Sams are still relatively unproven at the highest level, and the five-time champions could look to upgrade those positions if possible, in the auction.

Despite his prodigious talent, Brevis is still a puppy in his playing career, and some of those spots were visible in IPL 2022 as he understandably struggled with his tempo and the short delivery. Although Brevis will likely have a starting berth next season because of MI’s investment, the South African batter may not be mature enough to handle such responsibility in the middle order. Moreover, Tilak Varma, Brevis and David all have troubles against the ‘back of length at pace’ mode of attack, and Mumbai may want to find someone at the auction who can smash that length – in the mould of Liam Livingstone or Aiden Markram – to prevent being targeted by the opposition with the short stuff.

When it comes to Daniel Sams, the Australian gives Mumbai three valuable attributes, batting at number seven, left-arm variety and the ability to take wickets at the powerplay. Sams had a commendable back half of the season and should return in MI colours next season as an option at number seven.

Daniel Sams in IPL 2022 post Cummins carnage: Matches: 8 | Wickets: 12 | Economy: 7.45 | Dot %: 57

There aren’t many players in world cricket who could tick all the boxes and be an improvement in the Sams role for MI, but the one all-rounder who would be a perfect fit is Sam Curran. The left-armer has a proven IPL record and could complement Bumrah and Archer perfectly with the ball, but a purse of around 15-16 Cr may not be enough to steal him at the auction considering the limited number of quality players available and the other holes MI have to plug. Although the left-armer would be a luxury buy that will elevate Mumbai’s balance, Sams’ performance at the back end of the tournament indicates that it may not be a pressing need. 

Bowling unit

Moving on to the bowlers, next season will be the much-awaited debut of Jofra Archer in Blue and Gold. The Englishman’s injury status is currently unclear, but assuming he is fully fit, the 2019 IPL MVP is one of the first names on the team sheet, solving plenty of problems that MI faced throughout this season.

Jasprit Bumrah is the other pacer who is a lock in the side, but which other bowlers accompany him is more of a question mark. MI struggled to fill these two spots this year, with Basil Thampi, Jaydev Unadkat and Murugan Ashwin failing to impress in their chances. Ideally, MI would want to fill the final two spots with a leg-spinner and either another off-spinner or pacer depending on the surface, giving Rohit Sharma enough tactical flexibility.

In the pace department, the only in-house option is Ramandeep Singh, who had brief – probably unsustainable – success as a death overs bowler in their final few games. So MI will likely have to turn towards the auction or the trade market to solve this need, and some potential names they could look at are Chetan Sakariya and Kamlesh Nagarkoti from the Delhi Capitals, Kartik Tyagi from SRH, or Akash Singh.

Additionally, MI need a reliable wrist-spin option to control the middle period after finishing IPL 2022 with the fewest wickets (32) and third-worst bowling average (33.41) and economy rate (8.48) between overs 7-15. One route MI could go down to fix this problem is buy a world-class overseas leg-spinner – Adil Rashid, Adam Zampa or Tabraiz Shamsi – and then sacrifice the Brevis or Sams/Curran overseas spot by playing Ramandeep Singh. However, MI have always tapped into the domestic talent pool to fix this problem – Mayank Markande, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, M Ashwin, Jayant Yadav – and they will likely continue to back promising youngsters Hrithik Shokeen and Kumar Kartikeya to fill this spot.

Kumar Kartikeya in IPL 2022: Overs – 13, Runs – 102, Wickets – 5, Avg – 20.4, ER – 7.8

This leaves the Mumbai Indians with a first XI that will look something like this come 2023.

Likely Final Form: Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Dewald Brevis*, Tim David*, Daniel Sams/Sam Curran*, Jofra Archer*, Hrithik Shokeen/Ramandeep Singh, Kumar Kartikeya, Jasprit Bumrah

The main question for the Mumbai faithful is whether this is a team capable enough to go all the way and win a sixth championship. Next year, MI will benefit from Archer and Suryakumar Yadav’s availability for the entire season, and you would hope they will not make the mistake of dropping Tim David again. However, there are still a few warts in this side, with Rohit Sharma’s decline a constant concern along with the lack of an established spinner and the clear drop off in their middle order – Brevis, David, Sams – compared to their champion teams of yesteryear – Pollard + Pandya brothers.

Mumbai Indians took some obvious gambles in the 2022 auction with the purchases of Brevis and Archer, and next season will be the real test to see whether they pay off. They have the talent and the team on paper to go all the way next season, but plenty of stars will have to align in their favour to restore their dynasty.

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