The Mumbai Indians (MI) are proud representatives of the city that is regarded as the spiritual home of Indian cricket and they indeed made Mumbai proud this year when they were crowned the champions of IPL 6, putting the disappointing campaigns of the past five editions on the back-burner. It seemed to be the first year when everything clicked for the team barring the time when they were left grappling for answers after losing a closely fought final to the Chennai Super Kings back in 2010. However, in 2013 they played like a unit which won crucial games and made sure that there were no hiccups this time round. What made it even more symbolic was the fact that they beat the Super Kings in the final.
Ricky Ponting, Rohit Sharma, Abu Nechim, Amitoze Singh, Aiden Blizzard, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rishi Dhawan, James Franklin, Harbhajan Singh, Philip Hughes, Javed Khan, Mitchell Johnson, Dinesh Karthik, Dhawal Kulkarni, Lasith Mallinga, Sushant Marathe, Glenn Maxwell, Pragyan Ojha, Jacob Oram, Akshar Patel, Munaf Patel, Keiron Pollard, Ambati Rayadu, Jalaj Saxena, Dwayne Smith, Pawan Suyal, Aditya Tare, Sachin Tendulkar, Suryakumar Yadav.
MI has the largest squad in the whole of IPL and that is quite honestly one of the reasons, why they are considered such a tough opponent to break down. You know you are looking at a team with great squad depth when you see a bowler like Pragyan Ojha, a batsman like Ricky Ponting or Aiden Blizzard cooling their heels in the dugout for the majority of the tournament. On the other hand, it enables the team to get the right combination through trial and error if things somehow do go wrong at the beginning, as was witnessed this year when Ricky Ponting was benched after a string of poor starts.
Although Ricky Ponting was officially named the captain of the team, he held the reins for 4 matches, after which he was dropped and the responsibilities were handed over to Rohit Sharma. Although Rohit Sharma has very little leadership experience he displayed a shrewd cricketing brain and often ended up surprising the opposition with his tactics. For instance, when all teams were bowling on a good length to Chris Gayle and getting clobbered, Rohit instructed his fast bowlers Mallinga and Mitchell Johnson to bowl short and at the body of the big Jamaican. The plan worked and Gayle was nullified soon after in a crucial encounter. This was only an example but it must be pointed out that throughout the tournament he displayed a willingness to try new things in order to make things happen.
Well, the champions are pretty much sorted in almost every department of the game. The batting is explosive at the top of the order up to number seven-the position at which the big hitting Keiron Pollard or the equally explosive Ambati Rayadu comes in. On the other hand, Dinesh Karthik’s batting at number 3 has also been a revelation and it has allowed the team the luxury of playing an extra bowler or an extra batsman according to the demands of the game. On the bowling front, the troika of Mallinga, Johnson and Harbhajan Singh are extremely hard to hit and that comprises 12 overs of quality bowling, which most oppositions would find hard to score from.
The only noticeable weakness in the bowling unit is perhaps the absence of a good Indian fast bowler in the team and usually it so happens that the third pacer in combination with Keiron Pollard often ends up leaking runs. Since the opening bowlers are both overseas players, MI needs to look at buying a genuine Indian fast bowler as the third pacer in their bowling arsenal. They have not been able fill that gap since the departure of Zaheer Khan. A third genuinely good fast bowler from India should be their top priority in the next auction.
By Soham Samaddar
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Video Source: Mumbai Indians Fan Song-mipaltan