Mumbai Indians’ story of IPL success

Coaching staff, good cricket environment helped Mumbai Indians clinch the IPL title for the third time.

Mumbai Indians players celebrate their victory in Hyderabad on Sunday.   -  PTI

After an energy-sapping and emotionally-charged final over of the IPL10 sent down by the steadfast left arm seamer Mitchell Johnson Australian to four different Rising Pune Supergiant batsmen — Manoj Tiwary, Steve Smith, Wasington Sundar and Daniel Christian — Mumbai Indians scripted a miraculous one-run victory to lift the glittering trophy for the third time in the last five years.

The MI versus RPS skirmish resembled a gladiatorial show in the closing minutes after the Steve Smith-led band of a fiercely determined and ambitious cricketers positioned themselves to score a fourth win in a row after outwitting its opponent in the league’s home and away matches and also the opening play-off match at the Wankhede Stadium.

Read: Team work, intelligence key to IPL glory

The images of the last ball—from the moment Christian worked Johnson to deep forward of square, substitute Jagadeesha Suchith gathered his wits after fumbling with the ball twice and threw the ball for Parthiv Patel to collect and whip the bails off in a flash—will remain etched in memory for posterity. Just one run separated the winner and loser and Johnson’s cool response to the manner of win captured the essence of the great game of cricket: “These are the moments we play for,’’ said Johnson matter of fact.

MI’s third title triumph (2013,2015,2017) after being a finalist in 2010 has placed it above the suspended team, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders on the consistency quotient. CSK and KKR have won the trophy twice and Rajasthan Royals, Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers Hyderabad once. MI’s third win also marked the conclusion of IPL’s first decade and the cricketers who have been part of it have often said that Twenty20 league launched in 2008 is by far the best, even if the BCCI has not been able to get a clear window from other international engagements between ICC’s full members.

Mumbai's night to remember

Bought at $ 111.9 million by a Reliance Industries subsidiary company, Rathi Priya Trading Company Pvt. Ltd, for the first ten year tranche MI always believed that it was in the league to compete for the ultimate prize. It was not until the sixth season though that MI realised the actuality of winning the trophy.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned team has engaged five coaches—Lalchand Rajput, Shaun Pollock, JohnWright, Ricky Ponting and Mahela Jayawardena—and it is as a result of the knowledge and tactics gained from all that MI has been able to stamp its class and authority in the league. It has so far played 157 matches, won 92 and lost 67.

Ponting making himself not available for the 2017 season would have disappointed the MI owners, but the presence of John Wright as talent scout, Shane Bond as bowling coach, Jonty Rhodes as fielding coach, Kiran More as wicket-keeping coach and also the presence of Robin Singh and Paras Mhambrey in the coaching staff provided stability to the team. It’s this settled environment that has largely contributed to MI’s win and made things easier for new head coach Jayawardena, also a seasoned campaigner having played 80 matches for Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Delhi Daredevils.

IPL stars: Men who shone

MI reaped dividends for retaining players they had initially put their faith in; they got Rohit Sharma from Deccan Chargers in the fourth season and since, the elegant right hander has played 114 matches and remained a pillar of strength. MI’s other mainstays have been Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Ambati Rayudu and Harbhajan Singh; and once it plumped for Mitchell McClenaghan, MI has looked upon him to get deliver the goods.

But easily MI’s best pick has been fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and Wright all credit for getting the Gujarat fast bowler into the MI ranks. He has turned out to be match winner. And in recent times, MI has been clear about the wherewithal of the Pandya brothers—Hardik and Krunal—bring in to the table. This season the MI fortunes revolved around Sharma, Pollard,Hardik Pandya who played all 17 matches, Parthiv Patel, Bumrah, who played 16 matches, McClenagahn (14 matches), Krunal Pandya and Nitish Rana (13 matches), Malinga (12 matches) and Harbhajan (11) .

England’s Jos Buttler played 10 and he had to make way for Lendl Simmons because he was not available for the play offs. Leg spinner Karn Sharma played nine matches, including the last league match against KKR and the three play off matches displacing Harbhajan Singh from the XI.

It’s such bold decisions like dropping the most experienced off spinner Harbhajan, getting Krunal Pandya and Rayudu as soon as they were declared fit that gave indications that MI was looking upon brilliant individuals to combine well as a team in quest of the prize and the final proved it. MI also created a good environment at practice sessions, especially at the Wankhede Stadium.

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