23rd April 2015, match number 21 of the 8th edition of the Pepsi IPL taking place between Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians. Mumbai losing by 37 runs, languishing at the bottom of the table with just one win in six games. Virtually out of the competition, was it really the end of the Mumbai Indians in IPL8 ?
They fought back really hard. Had to start from scratch, from where all it began. After so many experiments in the first games, the last one actually paid off. In spite of injuries to their main players Aaron Finch and Corey Anderson, their decision to replace them with Lendl Simmons and Mitchell McClenaghan respectively actually paid off. The match vs Sunrisers Hyderabad proved to be so and that game rightly got Mumbai back on track. They won their remaining 7 out of 8 games in the process, advancing them to the playoffs and finishing at the second place, claiming 16 points.They got to play the qualifier 1 at their home ground in Mumbai against table toppers Chennai Super Kings. Mumbai won that game by 25 to enter straight into the finals. Too big for a side who started the season at the bottom.
However, they again met the same side in the finals as Chennai had defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore by 3 wickets to seal the finals spot. Mumbai were asked to bat first on a usually turning pitch of Eden Gardens. But it turned out to be the opposite. A superb partnership between Rohit Sharma and Lendl Simmons set Mumbai on course of 200 with Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard completing the needful. Mumbai finished at 202/5 with Chennai needing 203 to win their third IPL crown. In reply, Chennai started very slow. Openers Dwayne Smith and Michael Hussey struggled to find the middle of the bat with Hussey departing early and Smith struggling to keep the chase in tact. Smith, though playing steady, completed a slow half century but later departed leg before wicket by Harbhajan Singh. Chennai then began to crumble in the run chase, losing the likes of Raina, Dhoni, Negi and Faf Du Plessis and finished on 161/8, thereby giving Mumbai their second IPL crown. It was a big turnaround for a side who started the season with 1 win in its first six games.
So the question stands is, is this the strongest Mumbai Indians side we’ve seen over the 8 seasons of the IPL?
There are two sides to this answer. A basic yes and a basic no. Let’s find out why.
YES : Coming off a horrible start by any standards, this Mumbai Indians side of 2015 came out of nowhere to reclaim their second IPL crown. That takes a strong willpower to do it. A team filled with international players but more of local talent, it was much of an Indian impact in this side. All Indian internationals like Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Vinay Kumar, Parthiv Patel in addition to rising stars Hardik Pandya and Jagadeesha Suchith were instrumental in turning things around for the team. Also not to forget the forget the foreign punch of Kieron Pollard, Mitch McClenaghan, Lendl Simmons and Lasith Malinga. As much as the credits should be given to Rohit Sharma’s captaincy, the same amount of credits should be given to the support staff of the team. Consisting the likes of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jonty Rhodes, Shane Bond, Robin Singh and Anil Kumble. It was all because of them that the players were confident enough to recognize their abilities. This had the firepower ranging from Foreign to local talent. And the strong willpower, grit and determination can give a yes to why this is the strongest MI of all IPLs.
NO : This Mumbai Indians side of 2015 may have had a strong desire and willpower to win the IPL title, the whole full-strength squad was discovered in 2010 and 2013. The 2010 squad had more of Indian strength who later on went to represent India in the future. They then had the likes of Stuart Binny, Ajinkya Rahane, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shikhar Dhawan, Abhishek Nayar, Zaheer Khan, Saurabh Tiwary. They had a well settled core of Indian players destined for big things along with stars presently for other teams like JP Duminy, Dwayne Bravo, Sanath Jayasuriya and many more.
But nothing beats the squad of 2013, it was indeed an all star squad. A well settled bunch of Indian and Foreign players who could change the game anytime brought in. The squad included the likes of Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Kieron Pollard, Glenn Maxwell, Dwayne Smith and Indian rising stars like Yuzvendra Chahal, Akshar Patel, Abu Nechim, Rishi Dhawan and so on. This was indeed a stronger side compared among all the editions and deservably won the IPL and the Champions League T20 that year.
No matter how much the squad may have evolved over the years, one thing is for sure, they’ve been consistent almost every year in each edition of the IPL. And this is what exactly the Mumbai Indians is. Can they still continue to dominate the Pepsi IPL in the near future? Only time will tell.