One of the most consistent teams in the history of the Indian Premier League, four-time champions Mumbai Indians will be heading into the IPL 2020 auctions on December 19th without any major headaches, having retained quite a strong squad bolstered by the addition of New Zealand seamer Trent Boult through the trade window.
MI's policy of backing young Indian talent to come good has worked wonders for the Rohit Sharma-led side as they already wear a formidable look ahead of the auctions, with the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya apart from the skipper himself forming the core of the defending champions' unit for IPL 2020.
Apart from Boult, MI also drafted in West Indian all-rounder Sherfane Rutherford and veteran pacer Dhawal Kulkarni during the trade window, while Yuvraj Singh and the big-hitting southpaw Evin Lewis were some of the notable players featuring in the list of the offloaded players.
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While MI seem to boast of one of the best sides on paper going into the auction, they still have 7 slots to fill and will look to exhaust their remaining purse of ₹13.05 Cr to seal a few gaps in their roster.
On that note, here are three areas MI will look to target, and the possible players they may look to sign from the IPL 2020 auction.
#3 Specialist foreign batsman
With MI having released Lewis, Quinton de Kock is the lone foreign batsman in the squad ahead of the auction, with the duo of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav partnering the southpaw and Rohit Sharma to form the crux of the batting order.
Given that MI do not have a specialist batsman to depend on and their next best batsman is Krunal Pandya, they will want to sign a seasoned batsman to slot into the middle order, or even someone who can partner de Kock at the top such that Kishan comes in at No.4 and Yadav comes in at No.5.
A lot of talks have enveloped the prospect of exciting top-order batsman Tom Banton landing a big contract from the auctions, and with the youngster keen on "a dream stint" at MI, it remains to be seen if the franchise opts for Banton's services to partner de Kock.
The likes of Eoin Morgan and David Miller could be the front-runners to pocket a contract from MI if the management is keen on landing a middle-order batsman, while Chris Lynn could be a powerful addition at the top of the order.
Yet, MI's best bet could be to sign Glenn Maxwell, who is a proven customer with his pyrotechnics, and his ability to float around in the batting order could be the 'X-factor' for the defending champions.
#2 Backup wrist spinner
When the Mumbai Indians snapped up the services of then 19-year-old leg spinner Rahul Chahar for a sum of ₹1.9 Crore in 2018, he was bound to share the spin bowling duties alongside Krunal Pandya, with Mayank Markande a useful backup option for Chahar.
However, with Markande shifting base to the Rajasthan Royals during the trade window, MI now lack a decent alternative to Chahar. While one might argue that Chahar is good enough to seal a spot in the side, it is important to note that he was handed a place in the playing XI only after a poor start to the season for Markande during IPL 2019.
Similarly, if Chahar does endure a rough start, MI do not have a backup wrist spinner to fall back on. While they do have a whole lot of finger spinners in Krunal Pandya, Jayant Yadav and Anukul Roy, wrist spinners are undoubtedly game changers, and MI will want to fill that void.
Piyush Chawla's release from KKR could see the veteran join MI for IPL 2020, while they could also add some foreign flavour to their spin department by signing Ish Sodhi or Adam Zampa.
#1 Backup Indian pacer
Yes, the Mumbai Indians do have one of the best pacers in the world through Jasprit Bumrah, and they also have veteran Kulkarni in their ranks. However, coming off an injury and giving a 100% on the field is not an easy task, and MI will need to be mindful of the fact that Bumrah will be three months post a long injury layoff when they go into the auction.
While the likes of Lasith Malinga, Trent Boult and Mitchell McClenaghan are valuable options on the bowling front, it is quite improbable that all three of them play in a single game, and that will see MI depending on an Indian seamer to stand tall and deliver with the ball in hand.
Yet, this is where India's rich haul of pacers will be in the spotlight as MI have a plethora of exciting names to pick from. Tushar Deshpande, Ishan Porel could land a spot in MI's roster while if they are looking for experience, one of Jaydev Unadkat or Mohit Sharma could add some valuable skill and variety to the bowling attack.
Ideally, MI would want to sign someone with experience to fit right into Bumrah's role, but the team's ideologies to promote young talent might see a pair of fresh legs drafted into the side from the auctions.