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Cricket news - High on hope Mumbai Indians eye another title triumph

Since the time Rohit Sharma has taken over Mumbai Indians' captaincy, the franchise has bagged the Indian Premier League title every alternate year - making them the most successful team alongside Chennai Super Kings. So if you hear your acquaintance claim MI will deliver another title this year, based on the symmetry that has panned out in the last six years, you can't really fault them. And while it seems the logic is being driven a lot by emotions of the MI loyalists, the fact remains Rohit and his batch of 2019 will start favourites once again when they commence their campaign against Delhi Capitals on March 24.

It's hard to see MI not making the play-offs this time around as well but a lot depends on Rohit himself. His form will be crucial, if MI are to challenge the well-rounded sides, the other franchises have assembled this time. MI know how to leave last year's setbacks behind. They have mastered the art of not carrying any baggages. And that one aspect alone makes them a lot mightier than at least a few sides in the tournament.

Rohit's captaincy has played a huge role in MI's success and it's hard to argue against the fact that he's one of the top cricketing brains in the tournament apart from MS Dhoni. But a lot of MI's success has also been because of the background work done by their scouts. The arrival of Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Mayank Markande are testimonies to that. So it shouldn't come as a surprise if you see another player making heads turn by the end of the season.

Season 12 brings another opportunity for MI to remind the fans that they are one of the most successful sides in the IPL. The road this time around to the title, however, is expected to be a lot tougher.

Possible Starting XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma (c), Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah, Mayank Markande, Adam Milne/Jason Behrendorff.

Others in the squad: Yuvraj Singh, Anmolpreet Singh, Aditya Tare, Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Anukul Roy, Kieron Pollard, Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga, Barinder Sran, Rasikh Salam, Jayant Yadav.

Strengths: The all-round bowling unit

The firepower in the bowling department, and especially the Indian bowlers, make them a unit that's hard to look past. Bumrah's currently the best in the world while the Pandya brothers add variety that can leave other franchises salivating. Add to that the option of having Milne or the left-arm options of Behrendorff or McClenaghan and you've more or less covered all bases.

Weakness: The batting order conundrum

One of the biggest headaches for the think-tank will be the batting position of Rohit. He is at his best when opening the batting and struggles at No. 4. If they do want to push him to the opening slot with de Kock, they are left with another headache of using Suryakumar in a better way. Kishan blows hot and cold more often than not.

Opportunity: Ishan Kishan

A good season can propel Kishan into a better position when it comes to pushing his claims for the wicketkeeper's slot in the national squad. Wriddhiman Saha seems like a forgotten option and once MS Dhoni retires, Rishabh Pant is all set to take over from the veteran. Kishan has seen his colleague from India Under-19 days surge ahead and it's crucial now he starts creating waves as well. A good season with the bat will go a long way in ensuring Kishan still stays in the picture.

Threats: Lack of fitting replacements

Now this is debatable. MI not having suitable replacements? But what happens when the likes of Bumrah, Pandya and Rohit are likely to rest keeping the World Cup in mind? It's highly unlikely Rohit will rest considering the responsibilities on him. But Bumrah's backup at the moment is Barinder Sran and for Hardik, they've got Yuvraj Singh. Kieron Pollard isn't the same force anymore and if the big three go missing from the playing XI, the unit looks a lot more fragile.

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