Indian Premier League April 19, 2010

Preparation key to Mumbai's success

 
22


Mumbai Indians warmed up for the IPL well before the tournament began, and their preparedness has taken them to the top of the table © Indian Premier League
 

There was never a question of ‘would they’ or ‘wouldn’t they’. Mumbai Indians just had to go pass the league stage. Right from the outset, they looked a unit with a mission. Those daunting 20 points on the rank table, tell a story that perhaps unfolded a few months ago. No, I am not hinting at the season’s biggest buy Kieron Pollard. Neither am I talking about the obviously in-form Sachin Tendulkar. I am talking about the inherent smart thinking that has assured them, if nothing bigger, a place in the semi-finals.

Interestingly, the four teams that found themselves languishing at the bottom of the chart were heard saying that they didn’t play good cricket at crucial junctures which cost them a place in the final 4. But the point isn’t just that.

The IPL, in its third season, has managed to see different teams gaining and losing ground every year. So, is it only about those few crucial overs that separate a win from a loss? Well, yes and no. The fact is that most teams did precious little in the last three seasons to strengthen their sides. One might argue that they bought good players in the auctions, and that they even scouted for talent from the domestic circuit. But is that enough? Isn’t that the easiest route to find players?

Well, that is perhaps the point most teams missed and Mumbai picked. While Twenty20 may seem to have inherent randomness, the preparation is rather systematic. Right from organising camps to holding practice matches, this outfit has been at the job right from the word go. And all this well in advance.

It is not smart to shut shop once the IPL gets over. But that is exactly what most franchises have been doing all this while.

Well, even now, nothing would happen till as late as after the Champions league, when the fresh auctions happen. But, I daresay that it’ll be too late by then. For one the first-class season kicks off; all the good players will be busy playing for their respective states. Yes, the scouting can be carried out but there’s very little time left to make the players IPL-ready. A player might be good for his state team in different formats but will he be a good player in the IPL is anybody’s guess.

The biggest problem these IPL teams face is the lack of time. The team gets together only a few days prior to the tournament which is clearly not enough. But unfortunately that is not going to change in the years to come. So, what can be done to minimise that handicap? While International cricketers won’t be available, the local talent definitely is.

The trick is to have a structure in place which is operational throughout the year. The beginning would be to find young players who have the ability to hit the long ball or bowl yorkers and slower ones with perfection. They may not be good first class cricketers but a good Twenty20 cricketer doesn’t need to be one. Twenty20 requires a different skill-set and if you tick a few boxes, the rest can be worked upon. And then that academy should put these kids through a tough regimen of physical fitness and specific skills training to make them IPL ready when it comes. A Wasim Akram would only be effective if he gets both quality and quantity time with the bowlers, for I didn’t see much of a difference in KKR’s bowling this season.

We have seen that lesser known players like T Suman and Kedar Jadhav can make an impact, hence there is no harm in investing in them. In any case, they come a lot cheaper than the rest. It’s imperative that the IPL teams don’t see this as a 45-days tournament but a year-long activity, something that the Mumbai Indians have incorporated well in their plan.

It’s about time that franchisees go beyond the first class and under-19 circuits to recruit players. Yes, those players might need more nurturing but I’m pretty sure that it’ll be worth the effort.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aniket on April 22, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    Akash...I loved your article 'the science of big hitting'....it was informative and fun to read. I respect you even more after readin this article. I thought till now that you didnt KNOW how to hit big shots......but you know so much and still you practice so much self control....My hat is off! BTW....do you know Ajit Agarkar?..I wanna know the 'science of bowling economically'........LOL

  • ric smith on April 21, 2010, 18:59 GMT

    Management, management, management!They picked the right team, dropped the right players, and kept faith in Pollard - the secret weapon. He had enough time to gain IPL experience. Good decision making by the management and captain was the key. Go Indians!!

  • Mahek on April 20, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    I wonder what Aakash is going on about. He has mentioned hardly anything the team did in preparation for this IPL season.

  • Matthew Wong on April 20, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    @Santosh Dani While the overseas players haven't been the best the IPL also makes alot of money from international viewership. Viewers in NZ, Aus and England have no real affinity to any team so support and watch the teams their own players play in. That why they are costing you so much

  • sri on April 19, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    I do not believe that the Mumbai Indians have done something different than the other teams during the year except the fact that they have scouted well and recruited the cream(Rayudu,Binny,Satish) from the not so vogue ICL. The reason they are doing so well is that everyone of them are contributing when necessary and above all the Master Blaster is in sublime form.

  • Tyche on April 19, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    Hindsight is 20/20 and prediction is hazardous (especially when it is about the future!). It is always easy to look back after the fact and come up with theories that fit the facts perfectly. I would have been much more impressed had Akash written this article before the IPL 2010 started.

  • Venkat on April 19, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    Wish you had given more specifics on what kind of preparation MI had done. Composition wise, they don't seem very different compared to the rest. In fact, their preparation pre-IPL2 was more hyped than this one. I'm curious to know what exactly they did differently from the rest this time.

  • Chandrakant on April 19, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    I agree with you Akash in most of the points you mentioned, especially the need for under-19 Indian players in IPL. I would really love to see a completely changed KKR next year, of course one thing must remain the same, needless to say its one and only Dada! Mumbai was good in most of their matches but I am scared that Bangalore will stop the winning ride of Mumbai Indians in the first semi final. I desperately wanted to see a grand finale between MI Vs RCB, but will have to wait till next year!

  • SG on April 19, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Aakash, I like most of your writings and think you write best about technique, mindset and attitude. Clearly a thinking cricketer. This article however was so unlike you. Short on substance, it reduced the whole concept of year long preparatory camp to banalities, the kind we expect from most ordinary writers Bhogle et al. I realize its a blog so randon thoughts can be jotted down but not in the guise of an thoughtful article. Write when you ahve something insightful not just to meet a deadline. SG

  • Vipul on April 19, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    Hi Akash, While I am not a great fan of this format of the game, I beg to differ with you when you say that a good T20 player need not be a good first class player. While it may be true for batsmen, it is not so the case with the bowlers. I think the bowler has to be at his highest accuracy when bowling in this most condensed format of the game. I am of course basing my theory on the assumption that any bowler who has a slight exposure to any T20 match knows where to pitch the next ball. So under this assumption, if the control of someone like Harmeet Singh can be tuned to the level of Vaas, he can be just as effective. And if he can be effective in this format, why can't he be in the longer formats? It then boils down only to his stamina of bowling more overs.

  • Aniket on April 22, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    Akash...I loved your article 'the science of big hitting'....it was informative and fun to read. I respect you even more after readin this article. I thought till now that you didnt KNOW how to hit big shots......but you know so much and still you practice so much self control....My hat is off! BTW....do you know Ajit Agarkar?..I wanna know the 'science of bowling economically'........LOL

  • ric smith on April 21, 2010, 18:59 GMT

    Management, management, management!They picked the right team, dropped the right players, and kept faith in Pollard - the secret weapon. He had enough time to gain IPL experience. Good decision making by the management and captain was the key. Go Indians!!

  • Mahek on April 20, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    I wonder what Aakash is going on about. He has mentioned hardly anything the team did in preparation for this IPL season.

  • Matthew Wong on April 20, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    @Santosh Dani While the overseas players haven't been the best the IPL also makes alot of money from international viewership. Viewers in NZ, Aus and England have no real affinity to any team so support and watch the teams their own players play in. That why they are costing you so much

  • sri on April 19, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    I do not believe that the Mumbai Indians have done something different than the other teams during the year except the fact that they have scouted well and recruited the cream(Rayudu,Binny,Satish) from the not so vogue ICL. The reason they are doing so well is that everyone of them are contributing when necessary and above all the Master Blaster is in sublime form.

  • Tyche on April 19, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    Hindsight is 20/20 and prediction is hazardous (especially when it is about the future!). It is always easy to look back after the fact and come up with theories that fit the facts perfectly. I would have been much more impressed had Akash written this article before the IPL 2010 started.

  • Venkat on April 19, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    Wish you had given more specifics on what kind of preparation MI had done. Composition wise, they don't seem very different compared to the rest. In fact, their preparation pre-IPL2 was more hyped than this one. I'm curious to know what exactly they did differently from the rest this time.

  • Chandrakant on April 19, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    I agree with you Akash in most of the points you mentioned, especially the need for under-19 Indian players in IPL. I would really love to see a completely changed KKR next year, of course one thing must remain the same, needless to say its one and only Dada! Mumbai was good in most of their matches but I am scared that Bangalore will stop the winning ride of Mumbai Indians in the first semi final. I desperately wanted to see a grand finale between MI Vs RCB, but will have to wait till next year!

  • SG on April 19, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Aakash, I like most of your writings and think you write best about technique, mindset and attitude. Clearly a thinking cricketer. This article however was so unlike you. Short on substance, it reduced the whole concept of year long preparatory camp to banalities, the kind we expect from most ordinary writers Bhogle et al. I realize its a blog so randon thoughts can be jotted down but not in the guise of an thoughtful article. Write when you ahve something insightful not just to meet a deadline. SG

  • Vipul on April 19, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    Hi Akash, While I am not a great fan of this format of the game, I beg to differ with you when you say that a good T20 player need not be a good first class player. While it may be true for batsmen, it is not so the case with the bowlers. I think the bowler has to be at his highest accuracy when bowling in this most condensed format of the game. I am of course basing my theory on the assumption that any bowler who has a slight exposure to any T20 match knows where to pitch the next ball. So under this assumption, if the control of someone like Harmeet Singh can be tuned to the level of Vaas, he can be just as effective. And if he can be effective in this format, why can't he be in the longer formats? It then boils down only to his stamina of bowling more overs.

  • EDWIN MENDONCA on April 19, 2010, 14:16 GMT

    As for me a captain's contribution plays a big role in winning the IPl, it waas shane warne who lead the RR to victory in the 1st IPL, then it was Gilli who lead the DC and now it is Sachin who is leading the MI from the front. every team has big names, KKR has gayle,hussey,mcullum,shah,bond etc. BRC has kallis,taylor,petersen,morgan,boucher,steyn etc. DD has warner,devilliers,collingwood, dilshan,nannes etc. DC has gilchrist,symonds,gibbs,marsh, roach etc. kX1 has sangakara, bopara,hopes,jayawardena,marsh,lee etc. RR has watson,lumb,morkel,tait,voges,smith,mascrenhas etc, CSK has hayden,morkel,hussey,bollinger,kemp,oram etc and MI has bravo, polard,jayasuria (old horse),duminy,malinga etc to all kindly look at the teams and tell me which team does not have good cricketers??

  • Ritesh Desai on April 19, 2010, 14:14 GMT

    Nothing Personal!!! But I think readers will be much more enlightened if the views come from more experienced and more successful players; I mean how can a person with an experience of 10 matches write an article on somebody who has played 200 matches; more so with a wonderful pool of ex-cricketers with a celebrated career behind them

  • subramanyam chittivelu on April 19, 2010, 14:03 GMT

    Akash Chopra, excellent thought process put into clear and simple answer for the struggling teams like KKR. Like Chopra mentiones Rajasthan Royals used local talent to lift their first ever trophy,because of better preparation with local talent. Every one know that practice make perfect. But, it is good to know that one can use either local or lesser known foreign talent, who are availble for longer time to get better preparation for the tournament. I hope major teams will look into Chopra's recommendations. Good luck.

  • Bharat Chandra Penumutchu on April 19, 2010, 14:01 GMT

    I cannot see what preparation he is talking about. KKR has had a lot of preparation, i think it is just the local talent they have......imagine Zaheer, Malinga and Bhajji, there in lies your success and compare it to Bond (not proven T20 yet), Agarkar and Murali Karthik....I think any captian, who has got this sort of team with this sort of players would have won most of their matches.....I AM A DADA FAN, but would like to say the BEST CAPTAIN and the most "hard working" team has been Gilchrist and DC...Imagine the Bowling attack he has..... and HOW MUCH DC have pulled.....Yeh sure they won chasing big score but they also won Low scoring with famed batting orders RCB and DD.That show team work for you and that is a CAPTAIN FOR YOU.Who is Harmeet Singh or Jaidev Unadkat, getting the best out of them that is preparation for you.I think, Dada like most of his career has been "SO NEAR YET SO FAR", I think people also start giving credit for OTHER TEAMS FOR WHAT IS "REAL".

  • minas on April 19, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    it seems few of the IPL teams got their winning chanels by the end of this tournament, like KXIP and KKR, they have reached a position to march to the top, but they were too late and can feel some internal issues are there for them to come across

  • Santosh Dani on April 19, 2010, 13:18 GMT

    Most overseas players have been good only in patches and the talent in the domestic level is immense. Why are we paying for such entertainment? If we are not going to give our youngsters a chance then who will? The controversy on the IPL functioning should be cleared to also give the potential players a moral boost to focus towards their dreams of playing competetive cricket.I am a sports lover and would be happy to help in sports administration with a vision of helping talented sportspersons. In short an Academy at the lowest level.

  • Raghav on April 19, 2010, 12:05 GMT

    Well written, Akash! I am glad to see MI becoming the first team to ensure semis birth, that too without being involved into any permutations and combinations. Apart from preparing well months in advanced, another key to their 'so-good-show' has been Sachin Tendulker's captaincy. Their toughest match of the tournament was their second game against Rajasthan where Tendulker lead from the front and scored a blistering 89.As far as talent hunt goes, they picked the best players from ICL- almost all of them Rayudu, Sathish, Murtaza and Stuart Binny- will be the player to watch out for in future. I wish them all the luck. Way to go MI buys, win this IPL for your Sachin Tendulker, your caption.

  • manish on April 19, 2010, 11:56 GMT

    good one

  • anish on April 19, 2010, 10:38 GMT

    IMHO, the best practice is match practice. thus, one way could be to set up a short period of say 1 week before the IPL season where a franchise actually gets as many of its players as possible together to play matches against each other, and throw open these matchs to the public. not only is this a source of revenue, it is also good real time practice and a good way to test and experiment with all possible tricks the coach wants to try out.

  • Rajan on April 19, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    Akash Chopra almost sounds like John Bucknon. May be he should apply for the KKR coach role in the next IPL. All this laptop theories come to nought when inexperienced players are pitted against the best in the world. Mumbai had a good run because they are playing as a team instead of nursing big egos like many other outfits. Also it is a well balanced team with all round talent in batting, bowling and fielding. IPL is very unpredictable. After reaching Semi's its anyone's game.

  • Ravi R on April 19, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    excellent article and for consideration for all Indian sports and events.

  • arun on April 19, 2010, 10:13 GMT

    The most important thing is all their experienced members performed and gave time and confidence for their younger lot. While in other teams KKR,KXIP the stars didnt do well ,so obviously the team combination was always changed,so the younger guys didnt know whether they will be in starting XI. To Summarise each team.

    DD-Chokers. Captain who doesnt know how to handle a team of stars. MI-MultiTalented,HeroWorshippers,click as a unit and fail as a unit. RR-To put it simply MichaelSchumacher driving a Minardi. KXIP-9 People play one match while the rest 2 (yuvi,sree) playin other world. KKR-A team with different ideas,sadly all are not the same.Ganguly tries hard,but their players are simply letting the team down. RCB-BestXI onpaper.Most improved team after IPL 1 DC-Talented,Good Cohesive Unit-A very Effective team. CSK-Happiest Bunch, cheerful even when they loose. MultiTalented and easily the Team of the IPL for all 3 seasons.Only team to qualify for Semis in all 3 season

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  • arun on April 19, 2010, 10:13 GMT

    The most important thing is all their experienced members performed and gave time and confidence for their younger lot. While in other teams KKR,KXIP the stars didnt do well ,so obviously the team combination was always changed,so the younger guys didnt know whether they will be in starting XI. To Summarise each team.

    DD-Chokers. Captain who doesnt know how to handle a team of stars. MI-MultiTalented,HeroWorshippers,click as a unit and fail as a unit. RR-To put it simply MichaelSchumacher driving a Minardi. KXIP-9 People play one match while the rest 2 (yuvi,sree) playin other world. KKR-A team with different ideas,sadly all are not the same.Ganguly tries hard,but their players are simply letting the team down. RCB-BestXI onpaper.Most improved team after IPL 1 DC-Talented,Good Cohesive Unit-A very Effective team. CSK-Happiest Bunch, cheerful even when they loose. MultiTalented and easily the Team of the IPL for all 3 seasons.Only team to qualify for Semis in all 3 season

  • Ravi R on April 19, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    excellent article and for consideration for all Indian sports and events.

  • Rajan on April 19, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    Akash Chopra almost sounds like John Bucknon. May be he should apply for the KKR coach role in the next IPL. All this laptop theories come to nought when inexperienced players are pitted against the best in the world. Mumbai had a good run because they are playing as a team instead of nursing big egos like many other outfits. Also it is a well balanced team with all round talent in batting, bowling and fielding. IPL is very unpredictable. After reaching Semi's its anyone's game.

  • anish on April 19, 2010, 10:38 GMT

    IMHO, the best practice is match practice. thus, one way could be to set up a short period of say 1 week before the IPL season where a franchise actually gets as many of its players as possible together to play matches against each other, and throw open these matchs to the public. not only is this a source of revenue, it is also good real time practice and a good way to test and experiment with all possible tricks the coach wants to try out.

  • manish on April 19, 2010, 11:56 GMT

    good one

  • Raghav on April 19, 2010, 12:05 GMT

    Well written, Akash! I am glad to see MI becoming the first team to ensure semis birth, that too without being involved into any permutations and combinations. Apart from preparing well months in advanced, another key to their 'so-good-show' has been Sachin Tendulker's captaincy. Their toughest match of the tournament was their second game against Rajasthan where Tendulker lead from the front and scored a blistering 89.As far as talent hunt goes, they picked the best players from ICL- almost all of them Rayudu, Sathish, Murtaza and Stuart Binny- will be the player to watch out for in future. I wish them all the luck. Way to go MI buys, win this IPL for your Sachin Tendulker, your caption.

  • Santosh Dani on April 19, 2010, 13:18 GMT

    Most overseas players have been good only in patches and the talent in the domestic level is immense. Why are we paying for such entertainment? If we are not going to give our youngsters a chance then who will? The controversy on the IPL functioning should be cleared to also give the potential players a moral boost to focus towards their dreams of playing competetive cricket.I am a sports lover and would be happy to help in sports administration with a vision of helping talented sportspersons. In short an Academy at the lowest level.

  • minas on April 19, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    it seems few of the IPL teams got their winning chanels by the end of this tournament, like KXIP and KKR, they have reached a position to march to the top, but they were too late and can feel some internal issues are there for them to come across

  • Bharat Chandra Penumutchu on April 19, 2010, 14:01 GMT

    I cannot see what preparation he is talking about. KKR has had a lot of preparation, i think it is just the local talent they have......imagine Zaheer, Malinga and Bhajji, there in lies your success and compare it to Bond (not proven T20 yet), Agarkar and Murali Karthik....I think any captian, who has got this sort of team with this sort of players would have won most of their matches.....I AM A DADA FAN, but would like to say the BEST CAPTAIN and the most "hard working" team has been Gilchrist and DC...Imagine the Bowling attack he has..... and HOW MUCH DC have pulled.....Yeh sure they won chasing big score but they also won Low scoring with famed batting orders RCB and DD.That show team work for you and that is a CAPTAIN FOR YOU.Who is Harmeet Singh or Jaidev Unadkat, getting the best out of them that is preparation for you.I think, Dada like most of his career has been "SO NEAR YET SO FAR", I think people also start giving credit for OTHER TEAMS FOR WHAT IS "REAL".

  • subramanyam chittivelu on April 19, 2010, 14:03 GMT

    Akash Chopra, excellent thought process put into clear and simple answer for the struggling teams like KKR. Like Chopra mentiones Rajasthan Royals used local talent to lift their first ever trophy,because of better preparation with local talent. Every one know that practice make perfect. But, it is good to know that one can use either local or lesser known foreign talent, who are availble for longer time to get better preparation for the tournament. I hope major teams will look into Chopra's recommendations. Good luck.