IPL 2020: Can Mumbai Indians clinch back-to-back titles?

Mumbai Indians won the IPL for a record fourth time last year. File photo: AFP

As the Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to begin from September 19, the question that fans of Mumbai Indians, the most successful team in the 12-year history of the tournament, are asking is will Rohit Sharma's men make it five?

Mumbai Indians enter the world's most lucrative T20 tournament as the defending champions which will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this time. Under the brilliant leadership of Sharma, Mumbai have won trophies in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Can they make it five in the UAE? Well, on paper, they look among the favourites. Last year, Mumbai clinched their fourth IPL title with a thrilling one-run win over the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). They will look to win consecutive crowns for the first time.

The Sharma-led team is currently training in Dubai and they will take on Chennai in the opener at the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Strengths: Mumbai have one of the best top-order batting line-ups. This year, Australian Chris Lynn has been inducted into the team and he can fire at the top, possibly partnering South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. And with Sharma coming in at No. 3, the Mumbai top-order could prove to any bowling attack's nightmare. MI's all-rounders are also the most important contributing factor to their strength. In Pandya brothers -- Hardik and Krunal-- and Kieron Pollard, Sharma can include the three world-class all-rounders in the XI, depending on the situation. On the other hand, Nathan Coulter-Nile, who was MI's most expensive buy in the previous IPL auction, along with West Indian Sherfane Rutherford, who was traded in, are quality back-ups even if they don't make the playing XI in all games.

Weaknesses: Mumbai don't have good spin bowlers. Rahul Chahar and Krunal are expected to be the only two spinners who could get into the XI, but both are run-saving rather than wicket-taking options. The team's options on the bench are Jayant Yadav and Anukul Roy. The absence of Lasith Malinga, the leading wicket-taker in IPL history, may also put more pressure on Jasprit Bumrah to deliver in the hot and humid conditions. The team management has replaced Malinga with Aussie quick James Pattinson. It will be interesting to see how Pattinson fits in.

Mumbai Indians squad: Rohit Sharma (capt), Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Anmolpreet Singh, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell McClenaghan, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Mohsin Khan, Prince Balwant Rai Singh, Digvijay Deshmukh, Hardik Pandya, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Anukul Roy, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ishan Kishan (wk), Quinton de Kock (wk), Aditya Tare (wk), James Pattinson.

Leading from the front
Rohit Sharma has won four IPL titles as captain. File photo: AFP