Mumbai Indians 2013 review May 27, 2013

Underachievers no longer

Fancied Mumbai Indians took six seasons to finally get the monkey off their back when they were crowned IPL champions on Sunday
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Where they finished
Six seasons into the league they were supposed to win from the start, they finally won the damn thing on Sunday against Chennai Super Kings. This was the season Mumbai Indians finally made the transition from being a collection of superstars that always failed on the big night, to a champion side that absorbed pressure and overcame it. The tag of "The Best Side Never To Win The IPL" that had attached itself to them was finally shaken off. What Mumbai Indians did in the league stage didn't matter, for when it came to the playoffs, you knew what would happen. An opposition such as Chennai Super Kings would apply pressure, and invariably Mumbai would cave in.

Pressure was indeed applied, but it was Super Kings who did the folding in the final. Whether Mumbai would make the playoffs or not was never in doubt. They have been giving themselves a shot at the title since 2010. Again, they came up short against Super Kings in the first qualifier, and crumbled meekly. Deja vu. Told you so. Here we go again.

Both in the second qualifier against Rajasthan Royals and the final, Mumbai were up against six seasons of underachievement, which in their case meant anything less than winning the trophy, as Rahul Dravid put it. Both times, their powerful batting wobbled, and both times, it refreshingly held up. It took them six seasons to finally get the monkey off their back.

What went right
Persisting with players and combinations has not always come easily to Mumbai in the past. They played five specialist bowlers almost through the season, barring a couple of games. While the fifth bowler proved expensive at times, Mitchell Johnson and Harbhajan Singh, who largely abandoned the leg-side darts, had outstanding seasons.

Lasith Malinga was taken apart in the first two playoff matches, but that opening over in the final - the inswinging yorker and bouncer - was match-winning stuff. He'd been used as a change and death bowler through the season, and Rohit Sharma and the team management have to be credited for going a different direction in the final, whether or not it was the presence of MS Dhoni down the order that dictated the move.

Five bowlers meant only six batsmen. Once Mumbai realised Ricky Ponting was not clicking, they stuck with Rohit as captain and Dwayne Smith as the opener. Rohit and Dinesh Karthik had a superb league stage, and when they failed in the playoffs, Kieron Pollard and Smith stepped in. These four made up for average seasons for the other two, Sachin Tendulkar and Ambati Rayudu. Rayudu redeemed himself somewhat with invaluable support to Pollard in the final.

What went wrong

Pondulkar. Only garnered eyeballs, not results.

Best player
This was an attack too reliant on Malinga in the past. Mitchell Johnson came in and bowled with so much fire that Malinga wasn't required at the start of the innings. Johnson nearly always picked up wickets with the new ball, and his spell that softened up Chris Gayle in Mumbai was quality fast bowling. Johnson can be a double-edged sword, though, and needs careful handling. Which is where the presence of Ponting helped, as Johnson himself admitted.

Only six batsmen ensured Kieron Pollard was not wasted, something Mumbai have been guilty of so often, including in the 2010 IPL final, when he was held back till he was rendered ineffectual at No. 8. This was the first IPL season he didn't bat lower than No. 6. That is probably also why it was his best season, nearly 150 runs more than second-best. He came in at 52 for 4 in the final, and responded with 60 off 32 despite being largely off strike at the death. He got to face the last two balls of the innings and hit them both for sixes. Twenty20 gold.

Poor performer
Ricky Ponting never got going in the six games he gave himself. An average of 10.40 and a strike-rate of 69.33 say it all.

Surprise package
More than the man, the surprise was in the approach. He actually flighted the ball, which dipped, turned and bounced. There were quick topspinners, there was the occasional doosra. There were 24 wickets at 6.51 an over. He quelled a strong Royals start in the second qualifier. This was Harbhajan Singh from another era, and he had his best IPL season by some distance.

Recommended for retention
They would wish they could retain some more, but assuming a limit of four, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • android_user on January 3, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    5 player will be retained Rohit sharma harbhajan singh kieron pollard/dwayne smith malinga mitchell johnson/rayudu/ karthik

  • android_user on October 21, 2013, 17:42 GMT

    in next auction mi need to find the replacement of sachin.and second they should buy their key player who help them to win ipl like dwayne smith , mitchell johnson ,

  • Tweaky on May 29, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    Mumbai will probably pick Bhajji over Karthik for retention...they already have a bunch of wicket keepers in Tare and Rayudu, both of whom are more than handy with bat. Plus, MI has an emotional connect with Bhajji courtesy his friendship with Sachin.

  • Kamalakantameher on May 29, 2013, 3:13 GMT

    @SadhaP,there is no place of "would"in cricket.In final if smith wouldnot out then MI shall scored 220 .But result is result and try to digest it.

  • SadhaP on May 28, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    People are talking about 3-1 and 9-6, forgetting the fact that CSK has better record than any other team.2 times champion, 3 times runners and 1 CLT20. Also the only team figuring in playoffs all the time. Except CSK, other winners never came back (RR, Deccan, KKR,)strongly the next year. So wait for an year, you will see MI listing bottom in the table of IPL7

  • Harshmeswanirafanadal on May 28, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    Also strict disciplinary action should be taken against players who have shown terrible attitude throughout tournament by the team management. Pollard, Johnson and DK should be given a talking to. Pathetic display of behaviour(this goes for all teams). I wonder how we arent last on fairplay award!

  • Harshmeswanirafanadal on May 28, 2013, 13:43 GMT

    If there is anyone to be retained its MJohnson or Dwayne Smith. Both these guys have definitely played better than Polly, malinga and deserve to get in. Pollard played just 3 substantial innings out of 16 despite getting to play everytime and his catch was dropped in final. Malinga has done brilliantly every year so he can still be retained. Karthik had a good start but faded away towards end. Rohit and Bhajji were best 2 players by far. Harbhajan, Rohit. Johnson and Malinga should be retained or smith in place of malinga. Bowling is our strong point so we shoudnt let that get depleted batting is anyways weak so might as well keep bowlers strong. Good luck for next season!

  • Provost on May 28, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    Thanks CSK for letting MI win so that Sachin retires. It is a great service to IPL. If not sachin will show up next year also.......the controversy at the right time helped MI win (not sure whehter it is planned by Mumbai police/ambani etc.). Now it looks like too many indian politicians involved so we will never find the truth.........Chennai fan (CSK or any other team which comes in its place).

  • Kiran910 on May 28, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    All the CSK fans are having hard time digesting the fact that the better team on the D-day won, and are suitably blaming the off-field affairs, even going to an extent of saying that CSK lost purposefully to avoid further controversies!! Those who said CSK is a better team, 3-1 in IPL2013 and 9-6 overall in favor of MI shows the truth to an extent. One of the thing CSK was good at, compared to MI, was to hold the nerves and show good temperament in crucial knockout matches, which I guess again CSK fans were expecting, but on the day MI played better cricket and won! Had I been a true CSK fan, i would have appreciated MI effort in final and accepted the defeat with grace, rather than making it a case of sour grapes!

  • SadhaP on May 28, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    @Kamalakantameher, it is Simple CSK and MI bad at chasing when they play each other. CSK chased 3 times and lost, MI chased 1 time and lost. So both are equal teams and they have their own weakness in chasing. If CSK would have won the toss in the final then the story would have been different !!!...