New Delhi: Defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) were hoping against hope to have the services of Lasith Malinga.
But the mercurial Sri Lankan fast bowler failed to recover fully, in time, for the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
It sure is a huge blow to the Rohit Sharma-led team. The team is a batting-heavy and needed someone like Malinga in their defence.
The MI think-tank has professed that the team has enough bench strength to make up for it. And considering their role of players, it looked pretty much a lethal bowling attack.
In Malinga's absence, Tim Southee can lead the attack. The Kiwi pacer is not as effective as the slinger, but is one of the most respected bowlers around with an impeccable record.
Besides, the emergence of Jasprit Bumrah as a specialist T20 bowler only enhance MI's chances.
And with a stable and proven slow-bowling attack, under Harbhajan Singh's leadership, MI may well have one of the best attacks in the league.
Having said that, it will be a huge ask for any bowler to do a Malinga. The tournament's top wicket-taker is all but ruled out of IPL 9
, due to a lingering knee injury, which also kept him out of just concluded ICC World Twenty20.
His absence from the marquee tournament left defending champions without a known match-winner, and Lankans failed to make the knock-outs.
Will MI, also the defending champions, suffer such a similar fate? Only time will time.