If Kolkata Knight Riders represents ‘The City of Joy’, Mumbai Indians represents ‘The City of Dreams’ which has the largest population amongst all Indian cities.
The passion for cricket in Mumbai is unmatchable and this has proven in the history of Indian cricket as most of the legendary players over the years have come from Mumbai. Besides the Ranji Trophy team has won the title 38 times, which is by far the most by any team in domestic cricket and in fact a world record which they share with Australia’s New South Wales of being the most dominant domestic side in a country.
These factors perhaps prompted India’s richest entrepreneur, Mukesh Ambani to buy the rights of the Mumbai franchise in the team auction in late 2007. He was able to do through his sports company, Indiawin Sports which is the subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd. He bought the team for a gigantic sum of $124 million, which was Rs. 496 crores at the time of purchase and the most expensive of all the other franchises until the year 2011 when Pune Warriors was bought by the Sahara group for close to three times that price.
Hence, the expectations were already sky-high even before the players of the team were purchased in January 2008. And when the player auction came around, the team created havoc amongst other franchises with their selections. They picked two Indian players who were a part of the 2007 T20 World Cup winning squad, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa. The terrific trio of Sri Lanka, Sanath Jayasuriya, Dilhara Fernando and Lasith Malinga were also successfully bid for. South Africa’s legendary fast bowler Shaun Pollock was one of the star attractions of that season, who went on to become the bowling coach of the team. The other players which they acquired were Australia’s wicketkeeper batter Luke Ronchi and West Indies’ Dwayne Smith, who are utility players in T-20 cricket.
Although they were not the strongest on paper, they named master batsman and the home boy Sachin Tendulkar as the captain of the team and its icon player as well. But they were about to start the season without him as it was known that he suffered a hamstring injury following the completed home Tests against South Africa. So it was decided that Harbhajan Singh will take charge of the team at the very beginning of the season.
Mumbai Indians in IPL 2008 – 5th Place
Mumbai Indians started off the first ever IPL on a horrendous note with Harbhajan’s captaincy not inspiring the team at all. The team’s biggest weakness seemed to be its batting as without Tendulkar, there was no stability whatsoever in the batting line-up. The bowling was average, but not good enough to avoid letting the team lose. Mumbai was at the bottom of the table after the first four matches, losing all of them. To make matters worse, Harbhajan Singh was suspended by the BCCI for slapping S Sreesanth in a match against Kings XI Punjab which meant that the legendary Shaun Pollock was the best man to take over the leadership reins, as he had captained the South African national team before.
Pollock did manage to bring about some improvement in the team’s performances with three back-to-back victories, with a crucial away win against Kolkata Knight Riders and home wins against Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals. Tendulkar returned to be captain of the team in the match against Chennai Super Kings at home and it was under him that the team started to show what they were capable of actually.
The team posted six consecutive wins, thrashing Kolkata at home thereby beating them for the second time in the tournament and defeating Hyderabad in Hyderabad, taking revenge of their home defeat against the same team. However, the team’s inconsistency was to be seen with an unfortunate 1 run loss to the Kings XI Punjab at home, and crushing away defeats in the hands of Delhi and Rajasthan. The tournament ended well for them as they walloped the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore by 9 wickets.
Mumbai finished 5th in the tournament, having posted 7 wins and 7 losses in 14 matches, thereby maintaining a 50% win record. Although it does not seem to that bad a performance, yet the team did not deserve to make it to the semifinals as they struggled to win matches and a lot was left to be desired for the next season.
Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2009 – 7th Place
Mumbai Indians surprisingly came in as the favourites prior to the tournament itself, as the action shifted from India to South Africa. To make their campaign a success, the team hired South African coaching staff and included the retired Pollock in it while they also acquired the services of one of the emerging talents back then and now South Africa’s backbone, JP Duminy for as many as $950,000, despite stiff competition from Kolkata to pick him.
They opened their campaign in a match against the Chennai Super Kings in Newlands, Cape Town and prevailed by 19 runs against the finalists of the previous season. Sachin Tendulkar, who struggled to score above the strike rate of 100 a year ago, hit perhaps his first worthy innings in T20 cricket, let alone IPL. His 59 came off just 49 balls and he remained unbeaten till the end, winning the man of the match award for a captain’s knock.
The team however, once again proved to be too inconsistent. They did beat Kolkata Knight Riders twice in the tournament, maintaining a 4-0 record against them. Tendulkar won another man of the match award for another fifty and Duminy won it in the second encounter as his half century was crucial in Mumbai prevailing by a narrow 9-run margin.
But rain washed out their match against Rajasthan Royals and lost to Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab in Durban. Mumbai Indians won two games on the trot, defeating the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab for the first time in the history of IPL. They did not however end the tournament well, drubbed by Chennai Super Kings, defending champions Rajasthan Royals and a stronger by the day Delhi Daredevils in their last three matches.
This made it virtually impossible for the team to make it to the last four as they actually finished 7th out of the 8 teams in the competition only above Kolkata Knight Riders, with 5 wins, 8 defeats and 1 no result. A worse performance than the first season and this demanded radical changes to be made into the team for the 2010 season.
Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2010
The 2010 IPL auction saw the team picking West Indies’ all-rounder Kieron Pollard in what was an intense bid for him.
He impressed in the last year’s Champions League for Trinidad and Tobago and it was due to him that the team made it to the final, beating all odds. It is said that his fellow team mate at Trinidad, Dwayne Bravo suggested the franchise to pick Pollard in the team. The franchise also managed to rope in some young Indian players who turned out in the rebel Indian Cricket League last season and Zaheer Khan as well as South Africa’s Ryan McLaren. Besides, the team jersey changed from light blue to a slightly darker version of blue but with golden stripes in it, which made it more attractive to wear and look at as well. And that was the beginning of the turnaround in the team’s fortunes.
Mumbai played their first match against the Rajasthan Royals at home and although they finished with 212 in 20 overs, they won by a narrow 4 run margin fortunately as Yusuf Pathan was dismissed following a 37-ball 100. Delhi Daredevils were beaten at Feroz Shah Kotla, their so called ‘fortress’ by 98 runs with captain Sachin Tendulkar winning the first of his four man of the match awards to come.
They stumbled to their first loss of the season, to the Royal Challengers Bangalore at home. But fought back to win 5 back-to-back matches, with 4 of them coming at home and 1 being an away win against Deccan Chargers. At home, Kolkata and Chennai were outclassed by Sachin Tendulkar’s fifties which helped the team chase successfully. While the team’s strategy of batting second worked wonders against Kings XI Punjab as well with Lasith Malinga picking 4/22 in 4 overs.
However, both Chennai and Punjab took their revenge at home against Mumbai but three wins consecutively against Rajasthan, Delhi and Bangalore assured them a place in the semifinals and in the end they finished at the top of the points table, despite a loss to Kolkata at the Eden Gardens in the last group game.
Mumbai had some fortune before the first semifinal although an unfortunate explosion outside the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore before the match started. The venue was shifted to Navi Mumbai, which was as good as giving the home advantage to Mumbai, with the opponents incidentally being Royal Challengers Bangalore. They prevailed by 35 runs, courtesy an all-round performance from Kieron Pollard.
However, at the same ground they finished second best in the final against the Chennai Super Kings. But Sachin Tendulkar ended as the highest run getter that season, winning the Orange Cap for the same and there was a genuine team performance seen in almost every match, even if it was a defeat. Lasith Malinga had come off age as a T20 bowler while the performances of the young Indian players such as Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary were outstanding to watch.
Mumbai Indians in the IPL and CL T20 2011
Mumbai Indians made wise use of their $9 million dollar purse in the 2011 IPL auction after retaining four players from the last three seasons namely, Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard who were the most consistent performers of them all. They also managed to maintain their inexperienced but effective Indian bench strength of the last season. In addition to all this, they picked the Indian duo of Rohit Sharma and Munaf Patel, the Australian trio of Aiden Blizzard, Andrew Symonds, New Zealand’s James Franklin and the South African Davy Jacobs.
It was already looking a much stronger even before the season started and undoubtedly, they were given the tag of ‘favourites’ to win the championship this season. They started off in grand fashion, once again defeating Delhi Daredevils in their own backyard with Lasith Malinga picking up a 5-wicket haul in the very first game of the competition, making a huge statement as he also bowled a ‘maiden’ over to Virender Sehwag.
The run continued with a thumping 9 wicket win away against Royal Challengers Bangalore, until there was a mini hiccup with a defeat to the new team, Kochi Tuskers Kerala by 8 wickets as Sachin Tendulkar’s first ever IPL century was quashed by fifties from Mahela Jayawardene and Brendon McCullum. But there were 3 wins on the trot as the team won at home in the ‘Maharashtra’s derby’ against Pune Warriors India, followed by a narrow 8 run win against Chennai with Harbhajan picking the second five wicket haul of the tournament, while they beat a lowly Deccan Chargers team comprehensively in Hyderabad as Malinga won his second man of the match award.
There was another minor discrepancy on the path of perfection as they lost to Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur by 7 wickets after failing to pass a total of 100. But what followed was the old inconsistency of the team. Out of the next 6 matches, they won 3 and lost 3. The wins were against Punjab and Delhi at home and Pune in Navi Mumbai. But Punjab once again made it sure that Mumbai do not win both their contests, with a crushing 76 run win at home. Followed by Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals, which managed to beat Mumbai Indians in their own backyard.
Mumbai were on the losing side in 39 out of the 40 overs in the match against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens, but in the last over a miracle happened as Ambati Rayudu hit a six of the last ball off Lakshmipathy Balaji to win Mumbai a lost game and stunned a capacity 80,000 to mourning silence. With the virtue of the win, Mumbai Indians finished 3rd on the points table and entitled them to another match against the 4th placed Kolkata at the Wankhede. They managed to win that game also, though more convincingly as all seemed well again before the semifinal against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai.
The semifinal was the worst day for Sachin Tendulkar as captain. Firstly, he won the toss and chose to field first on a typically deteriorating Chennai pitch. And secondly, he gave the rookie Abu Nechim the responsibility to bowl the first over with the fearsome Chris Gayle on strike. Nechim was clobbered by him for 27 runs in that over, which effectively took the game away from Mumbai. It was a foregone conclusion that Bangalore would win and they did so by 35 runs, which made Mumbai settle for the 3rd place at the end of the tournament.
On aggregate, Mumbai Indians were impressive with 10 wins out of 16 matches as Lasith Malinga won the ‘Purple Cap’ for being the highest wicket taker in the IPL 2011.
Due to their impressive IPL performance, they qualified directly to play in the Champions League T20 2011. They came into the tournament as the underdogs due to injuries to several star players of the team, following India’s shambolic tour of England. Harbhajan Singh replaced Sachin Tendulkar as captain and his men opened the tournament with a crunch match against a much stronger Chennai Super Kings team, that too in Chennai. Chennai seemed to be taking the game away until Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan played quickfire cameos to win Mumbai the game by 2 wickets, causing a huge upset and giving the team massive confidence.
The next game was another thriller, which was against Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad scored a total of below 100 in 20 overs, but they gave the hearts out in trying to do the impossible, winning the game. Mumbai were on the edge, until the unknown tail end batsman Yuzvendra Chahal took 2 runs off the last ball to win them the match by 1 wicket.
Followed by which Mumbai lost to New South Wales, after batting first in Chennai. But they still managed to make it to the last four. In the semifinal, they had to face a resurgent but thwarted their threat by winning a tight game by 10 runs, defending a 150-odd total successfully.
The final was against IPL rivals Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai. ‘What goes around comes around’ indeed as this was the same ground that Bangalore beat Mumbai in the IPL semifinal a few months ago. This time, Mumbai got the better of Bangalore with a convincing 31 run victory as Harbhajan led the team with full confidence and proved that T20s can be anybody’s game and the fact that Mumbai Indians can never be underestimated.
Mumbai Indians in 2012
Mumbai came into the player auction with lots to ponder about with the unfilled slots in the team, in order to strengthen the depth of the squad. They picked RP Singh from the now defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala for $ USD 600,000 as well as Sri Lanka’s all-rounder Thisira Perera from the same team for $ USD 650,000. The South African duo of Robin Peterson and Herschelle Gibbs were picked for $ USD 100,000 and $ USD 50,000 , while Mitchell Johnson of Australia was picked for $300,000.
Outside the auction though, the team was more active as they exchanged Rajagopala Sathish for the wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik from the Kings XI Punjab. And Pragyan Ojha was bought through a transfer from the Deccan Chargers for $800,000.
Here are those players who are likely to make the biggest impact in this year’s IPL for the Mumbai Indians –
1) Sachin Tendulkar (India)
Does this man need any introduction? Not really, as the master blaster is not just the soul of Indian cricket, but also for the Mumbai Indians. If Mumbai is the second best in terms of brand value in the IPL as of 2011, it is because of the integrity of this man and his endorsements as well as consistent on-field performances. Would the Wankhede or the Brabourne Stadium see packed crowds once Tendulkar decides to quit all forms of cricket for good?
His captaincy and batting is key to their success and he is the second highest run getter in IPL history after Suresh Raina of Chennai Super Kings. The numbers are astounding – In 51 matches, he has hit 1723 runs at a brilliant average of 40.06, at a strike rate of 120.15 with his best being 100 not out in the 2011 season against Kochi. He has hit 1 century and 10 fifties.
He is evergreen for sure and come this IPL and he should be rejuvenated to perform better, with a much stronger team by his side.
2) Harbhajan Singh (India)
Born in Jalandhar on July 3, 1980, the Punjabi off spinner was called the ‘Turbanator’ following his 32 wickets in 3 Tests against Australia in 2011. He has been one of India’s most successful bowlers in all formats of the game, and has adapted his bowling to suit T20 cricket. This is one of the main reasons why Mumbai Indians retained him as one of the four players in the 2011 auction.
Although he has reached the age of 30, he still has the hunger to play cricket. He may be out of favour in the Indian team, but that could actually benefit Mumbai as they need a fresh and fitter Harbhajan to come out all guns blazing against oppositions. This is the toughest phase of his international career but he is a fighter like a true Sikh and will not compromise on his quality of bowling easily.
Besides, he is the ideal deputy skipper Mumbai need and he proved his maturity as a leader in the Champions League last year, leading the team to an unexpected victory. Only a fool can rule out Harbhajan’s value for this team.
3) Kieron Pollard (West Indies)
The Caribbean all-rounder, who was born on May 12, 1987 in Tacarigua, Trinidad, is more than just an asset to this team. In 30 matches that he has played for Mumbai Indians in the IPL so far, he hit 419 runs with his highest being 45 not out. But his strike rate is 149.64, which is what T20 cricket is all about. His role is to score runs at an extremely brisk paces as cameos are required for him while the rest will bat out the entire innings. He has hit 35 fours and 23 sixes in the limited opportunities or balls he gets to face.
Whereas his bowling has been even better, as his medium pace has managed to get him 25 wickets at a decent economy rate of 7.98 with his best bowling figures being 3/17. And ofcourse his fielding is invaluable as he moves like a gazelle on the field despite his burly physique. He has taken some of the brilliant catches in the IPL and is a reliable fielder on almost any part of the ground.
He is a complete package for T20 cricket and this is what Mumbai will rely on this season, as Pollard will try to continue his match-winning antics for the team.
4) Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)
‘Slinga’ Malinga was born in Galle on August 28, 1983. He is definitely the best fast bowler in limited overs cricket at the moment, with his distinction being that he can bowl as many yorkers as possible due to his weird round-arm action. In recent times, he has developed variations and learnt how to bowl the slower delivery better and not just rely on the quick delivery. The more Malinga improves, the better it is for the Mumbai Indians and alarm bells will definitely start ringing in the minds of the opposition.
Malinga is the second highest wicket taker in the history of the IPL with 61 wickets in 42 matches, and was the highest wicket taker in the 2011 IPL season with 28 wickets in 16 matches. His economy rate is a miserly 6.38 with best figures of 5/13. Outstanding indeed for a T20 fast bowler!
Besides he can also bat quite a bit, as seen by his Champions League antics. He could grow into another all-rounder for the Mumbai Indians in the future.
5) Rohit Sharma (India)
He was born in Nagpur on April 30, 1987 to Telegu parents. But made it big in the city of Mumbai itself, having played the bulk of his cricket here. Therefore, it came as not much of a surprise when the Mumbai Indians decided to avail his services in the 2011 auction, buying him from the Deccan Chargers, a team for which he did exceptionally well though, for a whopping $ 2 million US dollars.
He is the fifth highest run getter in IPL cricket with 1542 runs in 61 matches at an average of 31.46 and a decent strike rate of 129.90, considering that his job is to bat for as many balls as possible in order to stabilize the innings. He has hit 11 half centuries with his best being 87. But all those knocks have more often than not, won matches for his side and so he remains an invaluable asset to the Mumbai Indians.
Besides, he can do more than a handful with the ball as well, having picked a hat-trick in the IPL incidentally against the Mumbai Indians, having played for the Deccan Chargers in the 2009 season in South Africa. His addition to the team will be a boost to an otherwise shaky middle order.
6) Pragyan Ojha (India)
Ojha was born in Khurda, Orissa on September 5, 1986. The left arm spinner rose quickly in the Indian domestic circuits after shifting his cricketing base from Bhubaneshwar to Hyderabad. This meant that the selectors would pick him as a South Indian player, and this was the reason why Deccan Chargers picked him in the first season as a local player.
He impressed in the IPL 2008, so much so that he won a place in the Indian national team for a tri series in Bangladesh. Although the team contrived to devalue Ojha’s terrific performances as Deccan finished bottom-ranked in the first season.
Ojha is the fourth highest wicket-taker in IPL history with as many as 60 wickets in 54 matches, as his ability to flight the ball with an awkward angle especially for a right hander, can catch a batsman off guard easily. His economy rate of 7.13 is brilliant and his best figures are 3/21.
7) Munaf Patel (India)
Munaf was born in a village named Ikhar in the state of Gujarat on July 12, 1983. He first gained prominence on England’s tour of India in 2006 when he made his Test debut and regularly clocked above 140 km/hr, which unarguably made him India’s fastest bowler at the time. But as history has taught us, Indian bowlers cannot bowl at express pace for long due to their poor fitness levels and eating habits due to a traditional Indian lifestyle. He suffered from injuries time and again and had to compromise on his speed considerably.
The injuries may have been a blessing in disguise for Munaf as he became a much cleverer bowler by focusing on his line which would be nagging to the batsman, irrespective of the speed of the ball. This was seen more in the World Cup last year where Munaf’s bowling was crucial in India winning the tournament. That proved that Mumbai Indians did a good amount on research on him to pick him in the auction last year for $ USD 700,000.
Although now he is out of favour as far as the Indian selectors are concerned, Munaf will relish the challenge of playing the IPL this year even more and alongside his team mates Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha, he would try to use the IPL as a way to gain his place back in the Indian one-day team at least.
Mumbai Indians and controversies
Mumbai have had some controversies over the four years of their existence in the Indian Premier League. It began in 2008 when the team was named ‘Mumbai Indians’. It created a huge uproar in India as one point of view was that the team was not global in the approach, by confining the franchise just to India. While the other point of view was that this was a marketing gimmick as the team had to rely on their foreign players than the local ones, with Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh being the only star Indian players in the first season.
In the same season, Sachin Tendulkar missed out on a few matches due to injury, which prompted the team management to declare Harbhajan as captain. But Harbhajan’s reign was cut short in a match against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali. It is because he slapped his India team mate and the then Punjab fast bowler S Sreesanth right after the match, which Mumbai lost.
Harbhajan could not take the defeat on his head anyway and while Sreesanth may have told him that his team played well, Bhajji thought the comment was sarcastic in nature and became violent the very next second.
The slap dominated headlines for the next 10 days atleast with the proof of Harbhajan being guilty was that Sreesanth walked back towards the dressing room crying, with one of his teammates consoling him. Eventually, Harbhajan and Sreesanth made up with each other but that was enough for Bhajji to escape a punishment of being banned from the whole of the IPL 2008, and the contract money he was supposed to be paid by Mukesh Ambani and co. was not to be for that season.
There was no controversy as such in 2009 and 2010, as both the years passed by smoothly for the Mumbai Indians. But come the Champions League T20 2011 in India, and the team was in the news for the wrong reasons. They demanded to play five foreign players in the playing XI because of injuries to several players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma and Munaf Patel. That was not a problem since it is apparently mentioned in the rules that Mumbai Indians are allowed to take such a move. And it did happen.
However, they did have an Indian player in Suryakumar Yadav who was playing in a first class match in the country during the first 10 days of the Champions League, when Mumbai Indians said that he was ‘injured’ and hence they had to play another overseas player since there was no other potential Indian player in the squad. That means this was lie and Mumbai perhaps must have used their financial clout to twist the rules in their favour and a second string Mumbai Indians team won the tournament in the end. But was it a fair victory?
Interesting facts about Mumbai Indians
- Mumbai Indians was the most watched team on television in the IPL 2008, with 239 million viewers watching their matches. This is despite the fact that they suffered a loss of Rs. 16 crore that year.
- Mumbai Indians is the only team to use social marketing to promote the team, i.e., through education for underprivileged children which is handled by Nita Ambani, the wife of Mukesh Ambani.
- Mumbai Indians was ranked second in having the maximum brand value in the IPL as of 2011, overtaking the Kolkata Knight Riders in the process.
- Sachin Tendulkar is the first and the last captain perhaps, to have won the IPL awards for the ‘Best Captain’ and ‘Best Batsman’ in 2010.
- Sachin Tendulkar is the second highest run getter in the history of the IPL, with 1723 runs in 51 matches.
- Mumbai Indians has three of the top four highest wicket-takers in the history of the IPL, namely RP Singh (64 wickets in 56 matches), Lasith Malinga (61 wickets in 42 matches) and Pragyan Ojha (60 wickets in 54 matches).
- RP Singh, Pragyan Ojha, T Suman, Herschelle Gibbs and Andrew Symonds played together for the Deccan Chargers in the first three seasons of the IPL.
- Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds were incidentally involved in by far one of the ugliest scandals of cricket, when Symonds accused Bhajji of calling him a ‘monkey’ in the Sydney Test of 2008. How times change, as now they play for the same IPL team!
- Harbhajan Singh is the highest wicket-taker amongst contemporary bowlers in Test cricket, with 406 wickets and being the second highest wicket-taker of all time, behind Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan.
- Kieron Pollard was the most expensive player in the IPL 2010, according to media reports.
- This will be the first IPL outing for Australia’s Mitchell Johnson, a man who refused to play in the tournament since the last four years.
- Lasith Malinga picked the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar in the 2011 World Cup final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, which is incidentally the franchise’s home ground.
- Mumbai Indians is the second Indian team to have won the Champions League Twenty20 after the Chennai Super Kings, in September 2011.
- Mumbai Indians have played the Royal Challengers Bangalore in a match before the finals of the 2010 and 2011 seasons respectively.
- Mumbai Indians was the team to have broken Chennai Super Kings’ winning streak at home of 7 matches in the first group match of the Champions League T20 2011.