Renowned commentator Harsha Bhogle believes that batting new recruit Nathan Coulter-Nile at No.7 will add enormous balance to the MI side, as it will enable them to play two overseas pacers and an extra spinner. Bhogle also feels Mumbai will decimate the IPL if Rohit Sharma fires with the bat.
For any other team in the world, losing a player of the calibre of Lasith Malinga would have been a devastating, dream-crushing blow, but not for Mumbai Indians. Despite already boasting the best pace duo in the entire competition, the defending champs bolstered their squad in the auction by purchasing two more world-class quicks - Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile - and now, in retrospect, this move has turned out to be a masterstroke.
Coulter-Nile, in particular, was bought for a whopping Rs. 8 crores for his impeccable ability with the ball, but according to Harsha Bhogle, it might be the Australian’s batting that might hold the key for the Blues. In a video posted by Cricbuzz, Bhogle opined that Mumbai deploying Coulter-Nile, who scored a career-best 92 versus the Windies in the 2019 World Cup, at 7 would add tremendous balance to the side and will give them the luxury of playing two overseas seamers and an extra spinner.
"Can they play Boult, Coulter-Nile and Bumrah? Yes, they can, if they back Coulter-Nile to bat at No.7. The number 7 batsman doesn't bat more than 8-10 balls on average, so surely they can back Coulter-Nile to play at 7, and that will allow Mumbai to play Jayant Yadav or Anukul Roy to take advantage of what we believe will be slow-ish conditions in the UAE,” Bhogle said in a video posted by Cricbuzz.
“So what that means is that there are 6 bowling options straightaway - there are the two Pandyas, Bumrah, you have Rahul Chahar as well, you have Anukul Roy, you play two overseas fast bowlers and on top of that you've got Pollard. So if Coulter-Nile can deliver at No.7, Anukul Roy can bat as well, then they've got batting down to No.8.”
Bhogle also opined that Mumbai will have a decision to make with respect to the batting positions of young Ishan Kishan and big-hitters Pollard and Pandya.
"The question is - do they want to have a floater like Ishan Kishan at 4 or 7 and move all the big-hitters (Pollard and the Pandyas) up or do they want to play an extra slow bowler and move Pollard or Hardik to 4. I'd love to see Hardik get that responsibility. They have so much flexibility within their solid core.”
Despite having delivered the team the title in 2019 and despite standing tall as the most successful captain in IPL history, Rohit Sharma’s form with the bat in the IPL, especially of late, has been a cause for concern for Mumbai. The 33-year-old averaged under 30 in each of the last 3 seasons and in 2019, only managed to score two fifties in 15 innings. Bhogle noted how Mumbai have dominated the IPL despite Rohit’s fidgety form with the bat and stated that the defending champions would decimate IPL 2020 should ‘Hitman’ find his touch. The renowned commentator also described an in-form Rohit-de Kock partnership as a ‘dream opening pair’.
"The slight issue is with Mumbai's captain. Rohit Sharma is one of the white ball greats, but you look at the last three years, he's only scored 7 fifties in 46 games at an average of 25.60. And yet he's delivered two titles. So if Rohit starts to fire, can you imagine what this tournament will be like, for Mumbai? Rohit Sharma - Quinton de Kock is a dream opening pair, if both are firing together.”