IPL 2018 Retentions: Decoding Mumbai Indians' retention strategy
The evening of 4th January put to rest the rumours surrounding defending champions Mumbai Indians’ retention list. The rumour mill suggested that Krunal Pandya has been retained ahead of Jasprit Bumrah, but that turned out to be a false call. The Ambani-owned and Tendulkar-mentored franchise put forward the names of three players on their retention list – captain Rohit Sharma at a price of Rs. 15 cr, star all-rounder Hardik Pandya at 11 cr and Jasprit Bumrah at 7 cr.
They have spent 33 out of their 80 cr, which leaves with a balance of Rs. 47 cr in their purse going into the mega auctions to be held on January 27 and 28 in Bangalore.
Captain Rohit Sharma, who has led the team to three IPL titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017, the most by any IPL team, has been a star performer for the team ever since he joined them in 2011. His recent heroics, read three double centuries in ODIs and joint fastest Twenty20 century off only 35 balls, along with a brilliant display of captaincy against Sri Lanka, was sure to make him one of the most expensive IPL 11 players.
Among all the pacers Mumbai Indians have had, Jasprit Bumrah has been the most frugal. He gives away the minimum while performing exceptionally well in the death overs. The 24-year-old can rightly be called Lasith Malinga’s successor as a specialist bowler of Yorkers in the team. Even on a batting wicket like the Wankhede, Bumrah has the capability of tying down the batsmen.
Besides, he knows how to handle pressure, as was seen against England in a T20 last year, when he defended 8 runs in the last over, giving away only 2 and also dismissing Joe Root and Jos Buttler.
As for Hardik Pandya, he has been the best all-rounder for the Indian cricket team in the past two years. Proportionately capable with both the bat and the ball, while also being an acrobatic fielder, Pandya is very crucial for the Mumbai-based franchise. Though he hasn't quite justified his skills in the shortest format for India, his power hitting needs special mention.
In the three Indian players that Mumbai retained, they have covered all their bases. Rohit will serve as the skipper and batsman, Bumrah as a bowler and Pandya as the all-rounder. In the auctions that will follow, they now remain with the option to pick two overseas players through their Right To Match (RTM) card.
Among the prominent names that Mumbai missed out is Kieron Pollard. The Trinidadian is an absolute entertainer, which makes him an integral part of a T20 set-up.
The big-hitting batsman and a clever bowler, Pollard was one of Mumbai Indians’ star performers in IPL 2010, but couldn’t make the most of the opportunities he was entrusted with in 2011 and 2012. However, the following year, he scored 420 runs and picked up 10 wickets from 18 matches, and was instrumental to MI’s maiden IPL title, which made him one of their retained players the following year. In 2015, he performed equally better with 419 runs. Last year, he scored 385 runs but took no wickets.
All in all, Pollard has scored 2.343 runs in 123 IPL games at an average of 28.92 and a strike rate of 146.52. He has 12 half-centuries, 147 sixes and the best score of 78 to his name in the tournament. He is a star performer, which means MI are most likely to retain him through the RTM card, which will enable them to retain him at a lower price.
Mumbai played smart and strategized cleverly. In the forthcoming auctions, they can completely focus on the foreign players, who usually have a higher salary.
Mitchell McClenaghan could be another player the franchise will use the RTM on. He has been among the top 10 wicket-takers in the last two editions. McClenaghan has 54 IPL wickets in his 40 games and has best figures of 4/21 in the tournament. Besides, Rohit has always preferred him over Mitchell Johnson.
The franchise can also pick up few of the not-so-popular domestic players like they have previously dished out, like Nitish Rana and Krunal Pandya.
Especially Pandya, who has been one of their best players in the last two seasons, therefore, using RTM on him makes much more sense.