On April 7, VIVO IPL-11 will launch with the first match between perhaps the two most popular teams in the tournament’s history – Mumbai Indians will take on the returning Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. CSK is returning to the fold after two years, and will face defending champions, the Rohit Sharma led Mumbai Indians, on the first day of the biggest domestic T20 tournament in the world.
Before that, however, there is the small matter of the “new look” squads this season. While some teams have completely overhauled themselves in a bid for freshness and success, the Ambani owned Mumbai team has retained its core in a bid to extend their record as the most successful team in IPL history.
Mumbai has won three IPL titles – in 2013, 2015 and 2017. If one was to follow sequence, their next title might be won in 2019. They have never won back-to-back titles. Yet, under current coach Mahela Jayawardene, they won 12 of their 17 games in the 2017 season, and won a last-ball thriller against newcomers and derby rivals, the Rising Pune Supergiants. Under current captain Rohit Sharma, who took over in 2013, Mumbai have won all its IPL titles – making him pip MS Dhoni as the most successful captain of the tournament.
However, Mumbai had a tough start to their IPL journey. It took them six years to be counted as a top team. They finished fifth in the first season after starting with five losses in a row. They finished second-last in the 2009 season in South Africa. Between 2010 and 2013, with Sachin Tendulkar at the helm for most part, the team reached the playoffs four times in a row. They lost the 2010 Final at CSK at home, and failed to reach the playoffs only once since 2010 – in 2016, where they missed out by a whisker after winning 7 of their 14 games, despite winning 5 out of their first 7 games.
THE MIRACLE SEASON
In 2015, Mumbai Indians went on to win the title in the most underdog manner after losing 5 out of their first 6 games. They won 7 out of their next 8 to qualify for the playoffs in second place, where they won two in a row, beating favorites CSK in the Final.
Their rivalry with CSK is stuff of legend. They remain one of the only teams to have a winning record against Dhoni’s two-time champions, who were once the most consistent IPL team before the two-year ban. Mumbai Indians have won 14 out of their 23 contests against CSK – two of them were the 2013 and 2015 Finals. In the 2015 season, they won three of the four games between the two teams – including a qualifier and the Final. The two teams have also shared players over the ten years – including IPL legends like Dwayne Bravo, Michael Hussey, Dwayne Smith, Ashish Nehra and Parthiv Patel.
The best innings by a Mumbai Indians batsman came, not surprisingly, in a match against CSK – way back in 2008 during the first IPL season. Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya opened the innings while chasing 156. Jayasuriya played one of the most stunning knocks – 114 not out, in 48 balls, including 11 sixes. Mumbai won by 9 wickets with 6 overs to spare. This was one of the last sparks shown by Jayasuriya in a long career at the top – as part of the “coup” achieved by the management when he walked out with fellow champion Tendulkar for a year.
MI have played the maximum number of matches over 10 editions – 157. And nobody has won more games than their 91. A distant second is CSK with 79.
Mumbai Indians ex-bowler, Lasith Malinga, still holds the record for the highest number of IPL wickets (154). Harbhajan Singh is third with 127 wickets.
Current captain Rohit Sharma (4207 runs) is third in the list of all-time IPL run getters behind Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli.
The core of the team remains Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah. There is no Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayadu, and Lasith Malinga anymore. However Mitchell McClenaghan, their most successful bowler since 2015 – who went unpicked in the auction this year – is back in the team after replacing injured overseas (Aussie) pick, Jason Behrendorff. Saurabh Tiwary is back after being in the wilderness with Royal Challengers Bangalore, and will bolster the MI middle order with ex-KKR batsman Suryakumar Yadav.
Bowling. Overseas picks Pat Cummins, Mustafizur Rahman, Ben Cutting and McClenaghan will partner India regulars Bumrah and Hardik Pandya. Spinners Akila Dananjaya and 18-year-old Rahul Chahar will have a role to play with Krunal Pandya and JP Duminy in the middle overs.
Opening pair. Another untested pair in young keeper Kishan (replacing Parthiv Patel) and the explosive Evin Lewis will be tried – Mumbai have a record of trying out more opening pairs than any other team even within a season.
Ishan Kishan, Evin Lewis, Rohit Sharma, JP Duminy/Pollard, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Mustafizur Rahman, Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins
Bench: Anukul Roy, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan