Monday 8 March 2010 

IPL 2010 Preview - Mumbai Indians

Team Owner: Reliance Industries Limited

The Reliance Group is India’s largest private sector enterprise, with businesses in energy and materials value chain. The Group’s annual revenues are in excess of USD 27 billion. The flagship company, Reliance Industries Limited, is a Fortune-500 company and is the largest private sector company in India. It is headed by a charismatic persona Mukesh Ambani.

He is a chemical engineer from the University of Bombay and pursued MBA from Stanford University, USA. He directed and led the creation of the world’s largest grassroots petroleum refinery at Jamnagar. He also set up the largest and most complex information and communications technology initiative in the world in the form of Reliance Infocomm Limited. He is ranked 42nd amongst the World’s Most Respected Business Leaders and is the richest Indian in the world.

The Reliance Group bought the Mumbai franchise of the IPL with a record highest bid of USD 111.9 million.

Squad: Sachin Tendulkar (captain), Dwayne Bravo, JP Duminy, Shikhar Dhawan, Dilhara Fernando, Sanath Jayasuriya, Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni, Chandan Madan, Lasith Malinga, Ishan Malhotra, Ryan McLaren, Ali Murtaza, Graham Napier, Abhishek Nayar, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Rajagopal Sathish, Syed Sahabuddin, Rahul Shukla, Harbhajan Singh, Aditya Tare, Saurabh Tiwary.

Coach: Robin Singh

Although he was born in Trinidad and Tobago, Robin Singh spent most of his cricketing career in India, making his debut in one day internationals against West Indies on March 11, 1989. However he had to wait another seven years to secure a regular place in the Indian team. Singh was known for his middle-lower order batting and medium-pace bowling as well as his ground fielding skills. He was noted for his quick batting in the closing stages which made him an integral part of the side that competed in the 1999 Cricket World Cup. During his playing days, he was regarded as one of the best fielders of the Indian cricket team. Robin Singh was the fielding coach for the Indian team until October 2009 after which he took up this role with Mumbai Indians.

2009 Record: Seventh
2008 Record: Fifth

If people didn’t know what happened in the first season, they would say the last season in South Africa was a poor one for the team. In fact it was a proper reflection of how things shaped up in the Mumbai Indians camp for two seasons before they finally might be settling down this year.

The whole of the first season can be said to be a case of what could have been especially after they got off to a nightmarish start having lost their captain Sachin Tendulkar to a long hamstring injury. They saw many changes at the helm of affairs which can also be cited as a reason for their overall failure to reach the knock-outs. After Sachin, Harbhajan Singh took over as captain, primarily because Sanath Jayasuriya refused the offer. Singh was sensationally suspended for hitting Sreesanth after their match in Mohali and then Shaun Pollock assumed leadership duties until Tendulkar’s return in mid-May. Given the mix and match situation, it is amply clear why the team couldn’t make it to the semis.

In 2009, they were still in contention near the half way point of the competition but ended up losing six of their last eight games to end up seventh in the competition. Many said it was a clash of ideas between Sachin Tendulkar and Shaun Pollock who was acting as coach cum mentor to the side.

Strengths & Weaknesses: They are strong right at the top of the team line-up where two of the greatest batsmen bat for them together, Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya. If they get going, then it is curtains for the opposition without even facing a ball and it will only seldom happen that both of them will fail. Generally it has so happened in the last two seasons that Tendulkar built the innings while Sanath blazed away, but what was missing in the first season, was support to them from the batsmen coming later in the order.

That was sorted out by bringing in Shikhar Dhawan and JP Duminy last season although the latter is yet to prove his worth to the side. They have also recruited Ambati Rayudu from the players returning from the ICL fold and he could be a useful player in the middle order. They had also previously gotten Zaheer Khan from the Bangalore side and with Dilhara Fernando and Lasith Malinga form a potent fast bowling attack well complimented by Harbhajan Singh and Abhishek Nayyar’s military medium stuff.

But for the two seasons, while things have been slightly confused for them, they have also been missing a spark in the side. And that might come this year from Keiron Pollard, the hard hitting cricketer from Trinidad. Now take a look at the side and it appears to be complete with Pollard the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle. The only point that remains to be seen is if the pieces will be in place when the third season kicks off for this finely balanced side.

Player to watch out for: Kieron Pollard

All eyes will be on the man who went for the highest bid in the third auction earlier in the year. His value would shoot up that was quite clear from the moment his name went up for bidding. All the teams were in the fray till the last calls and fetched the maximum price bid of 750000 USD from almost all teams. It came down to a silent tie-breaker and then ofcourse he was won over by the franchise for whom money is never in short supply.

It could prove to be the shrewdest piece of business in this season. H bats in the middle order and bowls medium-pace but it is his strike rate that is most pleasing about him. Till the time he doesn’t come to bat, his side is always in the hunt no matter what the situation. His 18-ball 54 for T&T against New South Wales in the Champions League T20 in October 2009 proved as much. Now won’t it be a sight when the fireworks are provided at the top by Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya with Pollard backing them late on. Mumbai Indians might just have bought themselves the IPL crown.

Chetan Narula
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