IPL 2017 Auction, February 20th: Which Area(s) Should Mumbai Indians (MI) Strengthen in?

After failing to qualify for the IPL 2016 playoffs, Mumbai Indians (MI) will look to get back on the title hunt this upcoming season, which is scheduled to get underway on April 5th. IPL 2017 will begin just seven days after the completion of India’s 2016/17 home season.

Talking about the title hunt, Mumbai Indians were hampered last season by the absences of a couple of their key players: Lasith Malinga due to a knee injury and Lendl Simmons. Simmons was instrumental in MI winning their second IPL title (IPL 2015), and Malinga, needless to say, has been an integral part of the Indians winning two IPL and two Champions League titles.

Although Mumbai failed collectively in the ninth edition of IPL, they missed Simmons’ brutal hitting at the top of the order and Malinga’s wicket-taking ability and excellent death overs bowling.

The IPL 2013 and 2015 champions will, in my opinion, be one of the contenders for the IPL 2017 title if Simmons and Malinga remain fit for the length of the season.

In addition to the Simmons-Malinga duo, MI have also retained three of their core players, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu, who, along with the likes of Jos Buttler, Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan, make the Mumbai franchise a formidable unit on paper.

Read: Is Mahela Jayawardene the Right Man to Coach the Mumbai Indians?

Albeit MI have a good crop of match-winners and T20 specialists at their disposal, they do not quite have the cover for their first-choice personnel.

For example, after Simmons was ruled out of the last IPL season due to a lower back injury, after just one match, MI brought in Martin Guptill and hoped that the big-hitting Kiwi will do exactly what Simmons had done in the title-winning IPL 2015 season: settle in seamlessly and provide the team with blistering starts. But Guptill, who was playing in his first-ever IPL, made only three appearances and did not have the desired impact in Mumbai’s aspirations for a successful title defence.

I have kept referring to IPL 2015, and I have to for one more time.

Simmons not only made a gargantuan tally of runs—540 runs in 13 matches—which helped his franchise clinch their second IPL crown but also, in harness with Parthiv Patel, the West Indian right-hander forged a formidable opening partnership.

Even when Sachin Tendulkar played for his native franchise, MI rarely got off to good starts and the mandatory powerplay wasn’t used particularly well. They tended to start sedately and almost always depended on Rohit and Pollard in the middle order for providing a grandstand finish and an above-par total.

In IPL 2015, though, one area where Mumbai made a drastic improvement and which also played a huge role in their going on to win their second IPL title, was the substantial opening stands that Simmons and Patel provided them consistently.

IPL 2017 Player Auction: Ideal Purchase for Mumbai Indians

Ahead of the IPL 2017 player auction, my suggestion for the Mumbai Indians is to purchase an opening batsman who is in the same mould as Simmons.

Simmons is MI’s first-choice opener, regardless of who his opening partner might be for IPL 2017, and he will play almost every one of the 14 league games if he is fit. But the MI think tank must purchase a backup opener who is capable of coming into the side and delivering the goods when the need arises.

The reason why a backup opener is a mandate for Mumbai is if they want to get the most out of their skipper (Rohit Sharma) and a big hitter like Pollard, then having openers who provide good starts is vital. A few matches into a new IPL season, you do not want to feel handicapped because of an injury to your first-choice opener and also find yourself having to change a few players’ batting positions, something which Mumbai have always done with their batting line-up.

The Mumbai Indians’ bowling attack is well stocked and I don’t think they need to strengthen, despite releasing a handful of bowlers. Also, in Pollard and Hardik Pandya, they have a couple of all-rounders who will invariably provide their team with two-four overs with the ball in a T20 match.

Now, here’s the list of players retained and released by the Mumbai Indians ahead of IPL 2017 player auction on February 20th:

Indian players retained by Mumbai Indians  Overseas players retained by Mumbai Indians Indian and overseas Players released by Mumbai Indians
Rohit Sharma (C) Lasith Malinga Corey Anderson
Ambati Rayudu Kieron Pollard Jerome Taylor
Harbhajan Singh Tim Southee Martin Guptill
Jasprit Bumrah Mitchell McClenaghan Unmukt Chand
Shreyas Gopal Jos Buttler (WK) Akshay Wakhare
Vinay Kumar Lendl Simmons Nathu Singh
Parthiv Patel (WK) Kishore Kamath
Nitish Rana Marchant de Lange
Siddhesh Lad
Jagadeesha Suchith
Hardik Pandya
Jitesh Sharma
Krunal Pandya
Deepak Punia

More important than the players retained and released by the Mumbai Indians are the money they are left with to spend in the upcoming IPL player auction and the number of players they can purchase.

Mumbai are one of the two IPL franchises, the other being Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who have retained the most number of players (20) ahead of this year’s auction. According to IPL player rules, a franchise can have a maximum of 27 players in their squad, including a maximum of nine overseas players. In addition to these rules, Mumbai can only spend 11.55 crore rupees at the IPL 2017 player auction, so they probably can purchase just one quality player, either Indian or overseas.

One of the features of IPL 2017 is going to be the English players who will probably improve the quality of the league and add lustre to the same. Mumbai can add at least one of the Englishmen who will be up for auction on February 20th. Both the England limited-overs openers, Jason Roy and Alex Hales, have put themselves at a base price of one crore rupees and if I was part of the MI think tank, I will not hesitate to pick up Jason Roy at the IPL 2017 auction. He struck half-centuries in each of the three ODIs against India recently, and he is a clean striker of the cricket ball who will also like batting at the Wankhede Stadium.

Roy’s opening partner, Alex Hales, is another option Mumbai Indians have in case they miss out on the South African Roy, and in my opinion, they must add another opener to their squad.

February 20 Update:

On the day of IPL 2017 auction, MI have been a bit underwhelming in the first half. They were unlikely to steal the headlines, but MI’s acquisitions have question marks over them.

Latest purchases by Mumbai Indians at the IPL 2017 auction so far:

  • Mitchell Johnson
  • K Gowtham
  • Karn Sharma
  • Nicholas Pooran
  • Saurabh Tiwary
  • Asela Gunaratne
  • Kulwant K

The IPL auction 2017 has ended and Mumbai Indians have filled the seven vacancies they had.

Read: A Low-down on the MI Squad for IPL 2017

Closing Thoughts 

Mumbai Indians haven’t always aced IPL player auctions, but they need to have a good one this time around to ensure that they are well covered in every department, going into the 10th edition of the IPL.

4 comments

  1. M.I. should buy the players @ this year’s auction in the following manner :-

    Must Buy (All 3) :-
    1) Albie Morkel (Overseas Player)
    2) Tanmay Agarwal (Uncapped Indian Player)
    3) Aditya Tare (Uncapped Indian Player)

    Overseas Opening Batsmen (any 2) :-
    1) Ben Dunk (Australia)
    2) Jason Roy (England)
    3) Hamish Rutherford (New Zealand)
    4) Jason Charles (West Indies)
    5) Michael Klinger (Australia)
    6) Rassie van der Dussen (South Africa)
    7) Andre Fletcher (West Indies)
    8) D’Arcy Short (Australia)
    9) JJ Smuts (South Africa)

    All Rounders Batsmen (Must Buy any 1) :-
    1) Ben Stokes (England)
    2) Colin Munro (New Zealand)
    3) Corey Anderson (New Zealand)
    4) Jason Mohammed (West Indies)

    Indian Opening Batsmen (any 1)
    1) Manvinder Bisla
    2) Vishnu Vinod
    3) Mohammed Taha

    Overseas Bowlers (any 1) :-
    1) Morne Morkel
    2) Pat Cummins
    3) Trent Boult
    4) Chris Jordan
    5) Mitchell Johnson

    Indian Bowlers (any 1) :-
    1) Nathu Singh

    Spinners (any 1) :-
    1) Brad Hogg
    2) Parvez Rasool
    3) Praveen Tambe
    4) M. Ashwin

    1. You have put together a very good list, Mohsin, and I appreciate the research you might have done. But Mumbai Indians can spend only 11.55 crore rupees, and I don’t think they can purchase more than one quality player. Also, they do not have to strengthen in areas other than at the top of the order.

Your opinion...