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The costliest Indian Premier League (IPL) franchisee was spoilt for choices when it came to retention. Abhijit Banare explains that Mumbai Indians’ players who have been retained indicate that the management considers them as the best among the various quality match-winners they had.
The team line-up of the Mumbai Indians often makes for great discussions. With the number of big-match players, both Indian and overseas, they are literally spoilt for choices. For once it wasn’t the fans but team owners scratching their heads over whom to retain. Or in other words, which player is likely to win them matches more consistently than the other. With that thought here’s the line-up:
Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga and Ambati Rayudu
Considering the number of proven match-winners, it was expected that they had every reason to use their full quota of retaining five players. Question is whether they shortlisted the proper five? Only the end of the 2014 IPL season will tell.
Among the five, the easiest retentions were that of Rohit Sharma and Lasith Malinga. Rohit is one of the top T20 cricketers you would find in the world. In Rohit, Mumbai had found a leader in the last season who could lead with example and was proactive in the field. His record too has been more than impressive with an IPL title and a Champions League Trophy under his captaincy. Thus it was a complete package available in hand for the defending champions.
As far Malinga’s selection, there will be a debate over whether he was a better option than an in-form Mitchell Johnson. With Malinga not being in the best of form, Johnson was a prized catch with his pace, accuracy and form. Though Malinga hasn’t been in the greatest of form, one can never undermine his hunger to fight back and regain his magical touch. Season after season, the team management has showed their faith in the Sri Lankan pacer and will continue to do so this time around as well. Letting go off Johnson might have been the toughest decision they must have had.
As far as Kieron Pollard is concerned, Mumbai clearly wanted an all-rounder in the middle-order who could blast the opposition with the bat. And there was no one better than Pollard to do the job. In a similar role, Mumbai will set their eyes on Rishi Dhawan who has performed well for them and has had an equally good Ranji season.
The selection of Ambati Rayudu over Dinesh Karthik is yet another key decision with the latter being the more reliable one behind the stumps as well as with the bat up the order. With Rayudu’s selection, the Mumbai camp have taken a gamble and will be keen to either.
There were rumours that Harbhajan Singh might be dropped from the Mumbai’s retention plans. But Harbhajan’s selection means Mumbai have cemented the spinner’s spot. As mentioned earlier, one of the criteria for retention of players would be the matches the players can win time and again. In Pollard and Malinga, Mumbai already have players who could steal the show. Karthik vs Rayudu was just a call on who was their preferred wicketkeeper-batsman.
The opening slot is something they will be focusing on in the absence of Dwayne Smith and Sachin Tendulkar. In the past few seasons Mumbai had a good bunch of Indian players capped and uncapped along with the overseas ones. This time around they will have to plan for their auctions to fill in the top order and the pacer bowling list.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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