After a horrible start to their Indian Premier League[IPL] campaign in 2016, RPS has pulled out all the stops to ensure that IPL 2017 is different from 2016. No stone has been left unturned as they look to better their disappointing seventh-place finish from IPL 2016.
The Pillar Players
Indian middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane may not be in great form coming into the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League or even be a regular in the Indian T20 side but when it comes to the IPL, he is a completely different player. One who continually breaks stereotypes and shows that traditional cricket can still fetch lots of runs and you don't always have to muscle the ball.
There are three main contenders for his opening partner's slot. One is Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal, who is certain to feature in the side due to the flexibility he provides. The other two are South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis and Australian opener Usman Khawaja. While the latter came into the Indian Premier League on the back of a brilliant BBL [Big Bash League], he hasn't done much of note heading in this year's edition.
After his impressive performances in the India-Australia series, Aussies skipper Steve Smith has continued to show why he is the finest batsman in the world. While the flamboyant batsman T20 numbers aren't as impressive as his Test or ODI numbers, they are still not bad. An average of nearly 30 and strike rate of 125 after 140 T20s are solid numbers for a No.3 batsman.
Dhoni Make His Way
Since IPL season-9, there have been a lot of changes. First, Mahendra Singh Dhoni stepped down from limited-overs captaincy. Then he scored his maiden T20I fifty. Later, it was confirmed that Australian captain would be taking over as skipper of Rising Pune Supergiant ahead of MS Dhoni for IPL season-10.
In between all of that, Dhoni's batting has only gotten better. He scored an ODI century and T20I fifty in the limited-overs leg of the England series and has since then been in brilliant form during the Vijay Hazare Trophy for his state side, The former Indian skipper captained to the semi-final of the tournament and finished it as the team's second-leading run-scorer.
Can Repeat The Magic Of 2013 And 2015
It took the 2013 and 2015 champion Mumbai Indians 5 years to win their first ever IPL trophy and along with the Chennai Super Kings [CSK] and Kolkata Knight Riders[KKR], they are the only side to have won the title twice.
They are also the only side along with Chennai Super Kings [CSK] to have won the now defunct Champions League T20 twice – in 2011 and 2013 beating the Royal Challengers Bangalore[RCB] and Rajasthan Royals[RR] respectively.
A lot was expected of them last year since they clinched the IPL title in 2015 but they did not live up to their promise as they failed to qualify for the playoffs by two points as Mumbai Indians finished 5th on the table with 14 points.
Wizard In Mumbai Indians
Mumbai Indians did not spend too much in this year’s IPL auction as they already had a balanced squad with a host of impressive players to make the playing XI. Their biggest grabbed was spinner Karn Sharma who was bought for Rs. 3.2 crores.
They also purchased former Australian pace bowler Mitchell Johnson for his base price – Rs. 2 crores.
They also have destructive hitters like skipper Rohit Sharma, Jos Butler and Kieron Pollard.
Ambati Raydu and Parthiv Patel also give strength to Mumbai Indians batting.
As MI prepare for their first game in the IPL 2017 versus Rising Pune Supergiant outfit, let’s take a look at the possible XI they would field out against Steve Smith’s side.