The Mumbai Indians are the most decorated franchise in Indian Premier League (IPL) history, having won the coveted title a record five times. It is also the only team to have won the now-defunct Champions League T20 title twice.
When talking about Mumbai Indians, stars like Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah instantly come to mind, and rightly so, because they have been stalwarts of the franchise.
However, championships are not won by a few individual players but by a collective team effort, and there is no franchise that personifies these values better than the Mumbai Indians. A number of underrated players have played a massive role in the team's success over the years but have gone under the radar.
Here, we look at three such Mumbai Indians players who are not as celebrated as they should be.
3 Mumbai Indians players who were key to their success
#1 Lendl Simmons
Lendl Simmons has played 29 games in the cash-rich IPL, all of them in the blue and gold colors of the Mumbai Indians. He was first signed by the franchise as a replacement for Jalaj Saxena back in 2014. Simmons was quick to make an impact as he smashed a century in a game against the Kings XI Punjab to help MI prevail in a chase of 157 runs.
In 2015, he had a dream run, as he finished second in the race for the Orange Cap and formed a formidable opening pair with Parthiv Patel. He scored 540 runs from 13 appearances at a healthy average of 45. His contributions that year were crucial in MI winning the championship for the second time.
He was also a part of the team in 2017, when the franchise won the IPL for the third time. He notched fifties against the Delhi Daredevils and the Kings XI Punjab but had a quiet season apart from those two knocks. Overall, he has scored 1,079 runs in 29 games at an average of almost 40, including a century and 11 half-centuries.
#2 Mitchell McCleneghan
New Zealand's tall and muscular left-arm pacer Mitchell McCleneghan has featured in 56 IPL games, all for the Mumbai Indians. McCleneghan has 71 wickets in his IPL career and was one of captain Rohit Sharma's leading wicket-taking options.
McCleneghan was first picked by MI in 2015 and he repaid the faith by picking up 18 wickets in 12 games. His efforts went a long way in helping MI win the title that year. He continued his form in 2017 as well, picking up 19 wickets and helping the franchise attain IPL glory yet again. His best outing came against the Gujarat Lions in 2016 when he registered figures of 4-21.
#3 Ambati Rayudu
Ambati Rayudu, who has played in 188 IPL games, is mostly remembered by fans for his run with the Chennai Super Kings. What they tend to forget is that before joining CSK in 2018, Rayudu had featured in 114 games for the Mumbai Indians, making 2,416 runs in the process - including 14 half-centuries.
In the eight years that he has played for the franchise, he has scored 300 or more runs in a season on five occasions, which is a brilliant record considering that he used to bat in the middle order. In 2014, he played a fine knock of 68 off just 46 balls against the Sunrisers Hyderabad as he launched an attack against the likes of Amit Mishra and Irfan Pathan.
In 2017, he made 63 off just 37 deliveries against the Kolkata Knight Riders after enduring a tough season the year before. His best knock came against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2012 as his unbeaten 81 helped MI scrape through in a nervy chase. Rayudu played many such innings for MI but never really got the admiration that he deserved.
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