A series of articles where fans from each team were asked a set of questions ahead of the start of the season. The team in focus here is Mumbai Indians, and Atharva Kulkarni presents his point of view about his favorite team.

  • Mumbai Indians; what does this team mean to you? How emotionally attached are you to MI and what makes them your favorite team?

Mumbai Indians to me is an emotion. I have been supporting this team since the start of IPL. The reason why I and I speak for every die hard MI fan got attached to MI is because of Sachin. He built this team and till this moment an integral part of the squad. Also me  being from Mumbai, you get attached to the teams of your geographical area.

  • Mumbai, a side with the most IPL Trophies, have one of the strongest squads this year. How do you rate the squad for the upcoming season?

I am really very confident about this year’s squad. I think it would be a big mistake to not consider MI as favorites for the season. The addition of Chris Lynn, Trent Boult and NCN definitely boosts the squad. Having said that I do believe we have a weak spin lineup and the loss of Malinga doesn’t help us either. Even if he doesn’t play all the matches his presence in the dressing room as the most franchised and one of the best T20 bowlers will be missed dearly.

  • MI have a plethora of overseas pacers this season, and two very good Overseas top order players in Lynn and Quinton. Which four foreign players do you think should make it to the XI?

I think this year the captain and the coach have a really difficult task of choosing a playing XI. I think it is a good problem to have but it is gonna leave some fans disappointed when their favorite player isn’t picked in the starting lineup. According to me, the 4 overseas players who will start the season have got to be Chris and QDK at the top (Even if that means RS at 4), Pollard in the middle order and James Pattinson to start the season and depending on the performance he can be swapped out with one of NCN, Boult or Mitch. 

  • Which team or teams do you think poses the biggest threat to Mumbai’s title this season and why?

These are some different circumstances we are going through and it really is difficult to know the actual form of the players leading upto the season opener. Having said that if you look at the squads merit wise then I see only SRH, DC and KXIP giving a tough fight to MI this season.

  • We all know about the rivalry between two of the most successful IPL sides- MI and CSK. How do you feel about the rivalry?
mumbai v chennai

Don’t they call it the El Clasico of IPL? I think there are no two teams having more history in the IPL than MI and CSK. CSK have always been a team which challenges MI the most and MI love playing against them. They are one of those teams which capitalize on every mistake you make. I still remember celebrating too early last year when MI hosted them at Wankhede and DJ Bravo snatching the win away from us. Although we did get revenge in the final, those MI and CSK games are always tense to watch. The part of why this rivalry is even more intense is these teams are led by two of the most cool headed limited overs captains in the country. Having said that I have very few hopes for a competition this year due how weak the CSK squad looks. We are going to crush them.

  • UAE being a venue known to assist spin, how do you rate MI’s spin attack, which looks relatively weaker when compared to other sides? Do you think they can outperform some superior on-paper attacks?

As I referenced it above as well, the spin department will have to perform at a very consistent level for us to have easier games. If you look at last season, Rahul Chahar was a revelation. He is on his way to become another MI find who will do well for the country in the future. If he improves his performance from last year or even keeps it same, I think we will have a good enough spin attack because we know that Krunal is gonna be a consistent guy who won’t leak many runs and chip in with few wickets every now and then. The bowling partnership between Krunal and Rahul is going to be a very important factor this season especially when the IPL is played out in the UAE.

  • What has been your most favourite MI moment over the years? You can also name multiple moments.

Hands down the favorite MI moment for me has to be Aditya Tare hitting the six off of James Faulkner which helped us reach top 4 and qualify for the playoffs. I was there at Wankhede when that happened and the atmosphere there was second to none. Although we didn’t win the championship that season but this moment will forever be etched in my heart.

If I have to name another moment it is got to be the final of 2019. I had lost all the hopes but the way Malinga came in and single handedly won us the match was something pretty special to watch and I don’t think we are going to witness that good of a final anytime soon.

  • Who has been the most valuable player for MI according to you till date? And who will be their most valuable guy in 2020?

I don’t think any rational MI fan will answer anyone other than Rohit Sharma for this question. He has not only been one of the most important batsmen but one of the the most if not the most successful captain in the IPL history. The way he has led the team from the front has been so refreshing to watch. With that being said, I got to give SRT, KP and LM honourable mentions.

I think Hardik is the guy you got to look at for the most valuable player for this season. He was injured for a long time and out of the Indian team as well, he is going to be hungry to perform and give an audition to the national team selectors. No one in their right mind would doubt this guy’s all around talent and now with the birth of his child and much more settled personal life, I hope that all the controversies are behind us and we see the real HP.

  • Where do you see Mumbai finishing this season? Will they break the odd-even trend?

Looking at the squad, anything other than top 2 will be a disappointment for MI. Although, we have not been upto to the task in the previous seasons when IPL was played in the UAE. I do 100% believe in the captain and the coach to turn things around this year. About the odd-even trend, with the way 2020 has gone, anything can happen. I won’t be surprised to see MI break the trend and be crowned as back to back champions.