Let us not kid ourselves: Mumbai Indians, like they did in 2020, are going to run away with the IPL title in 2021. It is a matter of ‘when’ and ‘how’ more than if. This article, mind you, is being done as a mere formality, just like how the trophy presentation for MI will be in about 5 months time.
Mumbai could field 6 mannequins alongside Bumrah, Pandya(s), Rohit, and Pollard and they’d still probably reach the final. Heck, it won’t even be a surprise if those mannequins magically come to life, emulate and outdo a few world-beaters. Whether it’s a mere coincidence or if it’s something deeper - like Ambani doing some voodoo shiz in Antilia - we don’t quite know, but they somehow magically manage to turn everything and everyone they touch into gold. Long story short, it doesn’t matter who they Chuck, Marry, or Frill.
Nathan Coulter-Nile, Sherfane Rutherford, Prince Balwant Rai, Digvijay Deshkmukh, Anmolpreet Singh, James Pattinson
Nathan Coulter-Nile (8 crore): Mumbai paying 8 crore for an injury-prone, past-his-prime Nathan Coulter-Nile was as absurd as RCB burning their purse for Chris Morris, and it was a move which ultimately turned out to be ‘meh’. Younger and better prospects will be up for sale, and given NCN is still injury prone and will be a year older in April, he will not even be a utilitarian short-term fix. NCN, thanks for the (non-existent) memories but it’s time to say goodbye.
Sherfane Rutherford (6.2 crore): Sherfane Rutherford’s single biggest highlight from the 2020 season was flexing his Mumbai kit in the PSL. It is also, to date, the closest he’s ever come to wearing the Blues’ jersey in a T20 franchise competition. You do get the feel that they traded him just because they were bored. Given it cost 6.2 crore, you could say it was the ‘worst trade deal in the history of trade deals’.
Prince Balwant Rai (20 lakh): A year on, Mumbai’s purchase of Prince Balwant Rai still remains a mystery. Why? How? Who? What? Is he real? Does he exist? We still do not know or have the answers. What we know, however, is that the defending champs would be better off releasing the kid and saving up some precious squad space.
Anmolpreet Singh (80 lakh): At just the age of 22, Anmolpreet Singh might be a lot of things, but what he is not is a T20 cricketer. Anmolpreet was in red-hot domestic form (albeit in the longer format) when MI purchased him two years ago, but now the youngster is in the midst of an identity crisis, trying to keep himself in the mix after seeing his hype fizzle out. It was a marriage never meant to be.
Digvijay Deshmukh (20 lakh): Like Balwant Rai, Digvijay Deshmukh has also not played a single game of professional cricket - let alone in the IPL - since being picked by Mumbai. Unlike his signing, it makes all the sense in the world for the club to part ways with the youngster now, given they need to cut short their squad, which currently has a total of 24 folks. Deshmukh might become an IPL cricketer someday, but for now he will continue to remain the kid from ‘Kai Po Che’.
Mitchell McClenaghan (1 crore): Other than him being the club’s ‘lucky charm’, there is no real reason for MI to keep Mitch McClenaghan. He is 34, he hasn’t played an IPL game in two years and his professional cricket appearances have largely been restricted to just the Super Smash.
James Pattinson: Though Pattinson did an exceptional job filing in for Malinga last season, that his ceiling in T20 cricket is low, and that there will be plenty of better options available in the market cannot be overlooked. Mumbai will neither gain an overseas slot nor free up money if they let go the Australian - he was Malinga’s replacement - but he served his time, and did it well.
Marry (Retain at all cost)
A mega auction taking place ahead of IPL 2021 was Mumbai Indians’ worst nightmare, but now that it’s been ruled out, the Blues can continue to utilize the cheat code that is their squad. Their core, in fact, is so good that they can purchase a grand total of zero players for the next half a decade and yet end up winning the championship five consecutive times. Without exaggeration, it is the strongest core in the history of T20 cricket.
Frill (Retain as back-up)
Chris Lynn: Chris Lynn will not get a game in 2021 unless Quinton de Kock sustains an injury, yet Mumbai need to retain the Aussie. Why? a) having a player of his quality on the bench is the ultimate flex, b) he only cost 2 crore anyway, and c) why strengthen other sides when you can play monopoly by hoarding up all world-class players in the world?
Jayant Yadav: Jayant might not need Mumbai, but the franchise, like we saw last season, will require the off-spinner at some point in the season, especially given the fact that IPL 2021 will be played in India. Given Jayant is someone who not only has a wealth of experience, but is an out-and-out team player who understands he is an unofficial x-factor, the Haryana lad is a priceless commodity.
Aditya Tare: Any team would love to have a veteran domestic bull who understands the values and the culture of the franchise through-and-through. Though restricted to the bench, Tare is an important part of the Mumbai setup, and should rightfully be retained.
Anukul Roy: The greatest substitute fielder in the history of humankind, Anukul Roy has been making massive inroads in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and 2021 could very well be the season where he finally gets the long-awaited Mumbai cap. Three-dimensional cricketers like him are a rarity, thus it is imperative that Mumbai keep the boy with the golden arm - even if it means playing him as a substitute for one more season.
Mohsin Khan: 22-year-old Mohsin Khan might be, to the casual fan, a commodity as unknown as a Balwant Rai or a Deshmukh, yet the youngster has been growing from strength to strength in the domestic circuit. Partnering none other than Bhuvi for Uttar Pradesh, the left-arm seamer has made a fine start to SMAT 2021, picking 5 wickets in just 3 games. Mumbai are known for making prudent decisions, and retaining young Mohsin would certainly be one.
Total number of players MI need to retain: 12 (marry) + 5 (frill) = 17
Total number of players MI need to release: 7 (chuck)
Cash saved: 16.4 crore
Remaining purse: 18.35 crore
Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Dhawal Kulkarni, Lasith Malinga, Chris Lynn, Jayant Yadav, Aditya Tare, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan