While skipper Rohit Sharma and West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard are most certain to be retained, the choice for the second foreigner will be between Johnson and Malinga.

While Johnson's brilliant form in the Ashes and his supposed availability throughout the entire IPL duration is a positive, the factors that work for Malinga are his past performances for the Mumbai Indians as well as his better skills on the sub-continental pitches.

"Mitch has had a tremendous season. Even Sachin (Tendulkar) had indicated in his post-retirement presser that the fast bowler would make the difference in the Ashes. But if some of the matches are played in Sri Lanka, then Malinga's experience on those tracks could prove to be vital. Obviously, the one who is not retained can be got back with Right to Match card," a senior IPL official said.

Harbhajan Singh, who had a brilliant IPL season last time as he was third in the bowler's list with 24 wickets is all but certain to be retained.

"Bhajji has been associated with MI from the first year. He has a loyal fan base in Mumbai among the staunch MI supporters," the IPL official informed.

The tough choice will be between Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu as the team needs a top wicketkeeper-batsman.

While Rayudu has been one of the better domestic performers for MI, Karthik's glovework is far better than that of Rayudu.

"In terms of batting, Rayudu might just have a slight advantage but DK is miles ahead when it comes to glovework. This will also be an interesting choice," he concluded.


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