Rohit Sharma, IPl 2017, Mumbai Indians, IPL 2017 team preview, IPL
Rohit Sharma.IANS

Mumbai Indians have always been one of the strongest teams in the IPL, thanks to their explosive line-up. The two-time champions will hope for a splendid 2017 to become the first team to win IPL thrice.

Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians will count on their fire power to put up a better performance in IPL 2017, after failing to qualify for the Playoffs last season. 

With match-winners like Rohit, Kieron Pollard, Jos Buttler and Lasith Malinga in the squad, anything short of Playoffs will be a buzzkill.

How did last season go?

With IPL being highly-competitive, a good start goes a long way to make the Playoffs cut. Mumbai Indians got off on the wrong foot in IPL 2016, with just one win in their first four matches, leaving the blue brigade to play catch up for the rest of the season.

Though Rohit was brilliant, Pollard didn't look the part in last season. The team was overdependent on Rohit's batting and lacked consistency. The defending champions, who won seven and lost seven, failed to qualify for the knockout stages in 2016.

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The Mumbai Indians did not splurge much as they already had a good squad with a few places to fill.

Mitchell Johnson was bought for Rs 2 crores as he was impressive in the last Big Bash League. The retired Australian will leverage the pace unit. Asela Gunarathna seems to be the most interesting buy, and coach Mahela Jayawardene, who knows him closely, was keen to get the Sri Lankan on board.

The inclusion of Karn Sharma and K Gowtham, will bolster the Harbhajan Singh-led spin front. Mumbai Indians also bought left-hander Saurabh Tiwary and West Indies wicket-keeper Nicolas Pooran, for Rs 30 lakhs each. Pooran is a clean hitter of the cricket ball.

What about overseas players from last season? 

Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Jos Buttler – players any team would kill for.

Jos Buttler, IPl 2017, IPL, Mumbai Indians, Mumbai Indians team preview
Jos Buttler.IANS.

They are match-winners, and can turn around a game single-handedly. If these players excel in IPL 2017, it would be difficult for other teams to stop Mumbai Indians in their tracks.

Besides the trio, Lendl Simmons can prove to be a perfect foil for Rohit Sharma at the top. Mumbai Indians will count on seamer Mitchell McClenaghan to extend his impressive performance from last season. Tim Southee is another good option in the pace department. 

Key Indian players

Mumbai Indians have s strong domestic presence in Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Jasprit Bumrah, Parthiv Patel, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Karn Sharma.

With only four international players allowed in the playing eleven, strong domestic players are key to a balanced unit.

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Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma.IANS

A lot rides on their talismanic opener Rohit. His performance will have a direct impact on their results. Ambati Rayudu will give more balance to the batting line-up.

Jasprit Bumrah, with his famed yorkers and slow balls, will spearhead the bowling attack, and Pandya brothers can contribute with both bat and ball. Harbhajan Singh's experience and Karm Sharma's leggies bring more variety to their attack.

What does the entire squad look like?

Strong, balanced and formidable. 

Squad: Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Gopal, R Vinay Kumar, Parthiv Patel, Nitish Rana, Siddhesh Lad, J Suchith, Hardik Pandya, Jitesh Sharma, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Punia, Karn Sharma K Gowtham, Saurabh Tiwary, Kulwant Khejroliya

Overseas: Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Lendl Simmons, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jos Buttler, Tim Southee, Mitchell Johnson, Nicolas Pooran, Asela Gunarathna. 

What to expect?

Quality batsmen – check, skilled pacers – check, powerful all-rounders –check, match-winners – in plenty, check. They need to play positive cricket, and with quality players in the squad, Mumbai should not have much problems to qualify for the Playoffs.

If the likes of Rohit and Pollard live up to their reputations when it matters most, Mumbai Indians can definitely take home the title.