IPL 2017: Mumbai Indians - a proven recipe for success
With a set core and plenty of talent, the Rohit Sharma led side are ready for the final assault.
Mumbai Indians, the IPL champions of 2013 and 2015, started their campaign this year with a loss in the “Maharashtra derby” to RPS. Thereafter, till their recent loss on an away game to SRH, they had lost only 3 games. To have qualified so early for the playoffs allows them the rare luxury of testing their bench strength and take stock of exact combinations while matching it with current form.
That they are peaking nicely is evident from the red-hot form of Rohit Sharma and the additional options that power-hitter Lendl Simmons offers. An embarrassment of riches or a problem of plenty is what champion teams happily embrace. Mumbai’s conquest has rarely come unstuck as different personnel at varied stages of the tourney have put their hands up and pulled their weight for their side’s larger interests in quite an admirable and gutsy fashion.
It was the maverick Kieron Pollard, who with his hard hitting yet responsible batsmanship, took them home in that tense encounter versus RCB at Bengaluru. After Badree’s hattrick, MI was on the mat. A lesser side might have succumbed from 7 for 4 in a tense run chase. But MI isn’t your everyday T20 outfit and Pollard isn’t just another batsman. With bulging forearms, the size of a railway sleeper berth, he put his head down, quelled his inner demons and shut the naysayers. And of course, MI prevailed.
Meanwhile, young turk Nitish Rana pulverised GL. Fours and sixes rained from his young blade even as the connoisseurs witnessed the mindless mayhem in amazement. His half-century at the Wankhede was a backbone of a sizzling run chase that shredded the Lions, leaving them clawless and toothless.
MI’s batting line up is an assured unit and the confidence flows from the top-order. The opening duo provides blindingly blitzy starts. M/s Patel and Buttler, like a trusted stockbroking firm of the West, use the power-play to the hilt while laying sturdy platforms.
Unlike other IPL outfits that might rely heavily on willow-power, MI have plenty on offer with the ball to more than make up for a bad day with the bat. Take the case of the mature Jasprit Bumrah and his fast improving attitude. His unusual bowling action does not give any clue whatsoever to the nervous batsman at the business end as he unleashes unmitigated hell with his miserly and scorching yorkers. The cunning change of pace, orchestrated with confidence, stunted the seasoned power hitting duo of McCullum and Finch. The pair, trusted to clobber the ball in the super-over, struggled to put bat to ball, let alone score as Bumrah owned the moment.
Those are the kind of nerve-wracking matches that bind and forge a champion unit while fostering self-belief. A side that gets out of such hard scrapped situations emerges with heightened aspirations. That their opponents suffer, shaking with paralysis, is a byproduct of a well-oiled process.
And the riches in the seam-up genre don’t end with Bumrah for MI. McClenaghan and Malinga provide the vital “Vitamin M” with their aggressive bursts at varying angles. And more often than not, they succeed, as evidenced by results.
The reinvention of Harbhajan Singh, replete with the sleight of hand akin to a sorcerer, offers glimpses of a raging off-spinner of old. His performances this year have been a reflection of his younger self - a time when he lured the crease-tied, hapless batsmen to school boy errors with poor shot selection and flawed execution.
Apart from shouldering the onerous task of bowling in the powerplay overs with economical run rate against batsmen straining at the leash, his calm demeanour takes the cake. He now appears a contended craftsman, plying his trade with no expectations apart from fulfilling his innate potential.
Time and time again, MI throws young, talented and unheralded players into the deep end and in doing so unearth quality players. The Pandya brothers emerged in this fashion while polishing their skillsets - akin to pure gold emerging from scalding heat.The beautiful offshoot of such methods is that MI has developed a core group.
Only an acerbic sceptic would suggest that they may have peaked a tad too soon in a long drawn tourney. For this solid team from India's maximum city, has all its bases covered and is ready to summon it's wherewithal from its deepest recess to outplay even the most resolute of opponents.
Also read: IPL 2017 Points Table and Standings