IPL 2013 May 25, 2013

Reward at last for moneyed Mumbai?

Mumbai Indians have been quick to snap up players to address weaknesses that have surfaced through the seasons, and their monetary power has helped them do that

Rajasthan Royals have traditionally drawn much sympathy from IPL watchers, and their captain constantly reminded everyone this year of how they are a "moneyball" side, how under-resourced they are in terms of personnel and yet punch above their weight each time. Mumbai Indians are a popular side, too, but for reasons totally different. They are a side filled with big stars, and have a line-up that cannot have too many excuses to stop short of winning the title.

The hunger to win remains, not just evident in the team's improved performance this year that's taken them to the final for the second time, but also tweaks made to their squad through the seasons, the management compensating for any weaknesses that surface with high-profile purchases, be in the auctions or in between seasons, of players that have caught the eye. And the franchise's monetary power has played a significant role in ensuring Mumbai have got what they want.

Kieron Pollard blasted his way to an IPL contract when he smashed an unbeaten 54 off 18 balls for Trinidad and Tobago against New South Wales in 2009, and Mumbai fought hard in the subsequent auctions to buy him. He fetched the maximum bid of US$750,000 before Mumbai bagged him in the secret tie-break, beating Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore by paying an undisclosed amount. He was one of four players retained by them after the 2010 season, and is now a key part of the middle order.

Though he's not been as effective in the second half of this season with the bat, Dinesh Karthik was an important transfer ahead of last year's IPL during the transfer window. Ambati Rayudu, who remained in the Mumbai side, had kept wickets before him, but the need for a specialist wicket-keeper batsman prompted the franchise to shell out an undisclosed amount that may well have been among the most paid for a player in the transfer window. He had been bought for US$900,000 by Kings XI Punjab, a team that had a specialist wicketkeeper-batsman as their captain.

In the bowling, Mumbai bought Pragyan Ojha during the transfer window to bowl in tandem with Harbhajan Singh, and Ali Murtaza went to Pune Warriors. And in the auction, they bid US$600,000 for RP Singh. RP, until then, had been the leading wicket-taker in the IPL, and Ojha was not far behind him, in fourth place. Three of the leading five bowlers in IPL were with Mumbai at the start of the 2012 season.

Last year, Mumbai tried as many as nine opening combinations. One of those openers was Richard Levi, who went unsold in the auctions in February but was snapped by Mumbai, who beat Pune Warriors to sign him, almost immediately after he smashed 13 sixes in a T20 century against New Zealand. Davy Jacobs was another opener, bought by Mumbai after he made 286 runs in six innings in the Champions League the previous year.

Dwayne Smith hadn't played for West Indies in the longer formats for a while when he was signed up by Mumbai last year, but a quickfire half-century against Australia in a T20 international and a successful stint with Khulna Royal Bengals in the Bangladesh Premier League won him a call-up. This, after he went unsold in the auction. And he's been an important player for them at the top of the order this year.

Pollard, Smith, Karthik and, to a lesser extent, Ojha have had a role to play in their team's march to the final this season, their presence in the team a product of some opportunistic, and occasionally aggressive, buying. An ideal culmination to this process for Mumbai would be a title victory, slightly belated you would think for one of he most powerful franchises in the tournament.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dhruv on May 26, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    @Racmax : actually racmax it happens in Australia too with our national game the Afl (Australian Football League)

    Makes sense really, and gives the teams in incentive to finish higher up on the points table.

  • Naveen on May 26, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    @Racmax----This is the best system...how many times have we seen a team playing scratchy cricket has come to final and win Worldcup in last 30 Years(only exception would be world cup winning Australian team last decade...even they scratched though in 90's)? While team who were consistent where kicked out by insane rules(like 1992 world cup where South Africa was kicked out by Duckworth/Lewis asking them to score 22 runs in one ball) wasnt that a joke or even worse.

    This way consistent teams get good chance of making it to final. I believe this should be adopted in all tournaments.

  • Harsh on May 26, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    There are two areas where my team MI has to improve. Batting and player selecting at the auction. Every auction we aimlessly try to pick the next 'big thing' and every time they fail. We should buy more sensibly and get experienced but not 36+ players. We still dont hav a good stable opening pair. A win tonight seems far off unless we play out of our skins!

  • Prince on May 26, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    This year proved that this is Sacin's last IPL. He hardly played any significant part through out the series, except for one match where he was forcibly given an undeserving man of the match award. MI is still a team dependent on individual brilliance than team performance like CSK or RR, and that is not a sign of a great team. Also in Pollard, Munaf , Mitchell and Bhajji MI has one of the worst behaved teams in IPL. Come on what was Mitchell thinking sledging the great Dravid! Hope they pay for that in today's final.

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    @Racmax > I actually think it's a good system. It gives the 2nd placed team a 2nd chance to go through to the final, as a reward for all the hard work they did in order to finish among the Top 2 after the league stage.

  • suresh on May 26, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    For paying out so much for their players winning has got to be everything for MI.

  • Rome on May 26, 2013, 0:56 GMT

    This Final is a farce. Would someone explain how a team can play in in two Qualifier Matches after losing in the first? Only in India I guess.

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    For all the money they spend on big players, its a surprise that Dhawal Kulkarini is one of their better performers.

  • Vishal on May 25, 2013, 18:09 GMT

    Where is the information on the million dollar man for this year: Maxwell who played 2 matches (or was it more) w/o any effects!

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2013, 16:42 GMT

    Buying big stars is ok but what MI is doing now is not good denying chances for players like Suryakumar Yadav, Jalaj Saxena,Amitoz Sing and many budding players like Akshar Patel

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