Mitchell McClenaghan © IANS
Mitchell McClenaghan © IANS

The manner in which Mumbai Indians commenced their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 campaign, it looked highly unlikely they would make it to the Playoffs, but then Mitchell McClenaghan came and resurrected their hopes. Rishad D’Souza elaborates on the same.

Mumbai Indians looked out of sorts at the start of their campaign in IPL 2015. They were beaten in four consecutive games and the bowling looked grossly incapable of defending even big totals. In fact, in their tournament opener against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) they scored a respectable 168, but KKR hunted that down with little difficulty. READ: Mitchell McClenaghan backs Mumbai Indians for 2nd IPL title

In their fourth game of the season — the last without Mitchell McClenaghan — against Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the bowlers were unable to even challenge any  of the CSK batsmen, even though they were chasing a big 184 for victory! The total in fact was hunted down in a mere 16.4 overs.

Unfortunately for the men in blue, effective New Zealand all-rounder, Corey Anderson was injured after that game. But what looked like a major blow early on, turned out to be a blessing in disguise for MI. They decided to replace Anderson with his countryman McClenaghan in the next match and voila! Mumbai won!

In all honesty, MI won that game only because of their batsmen who decided they would have to take matters in their own hands, to make up for a seemingly unconfident bowling attack. McClenaghan was expensive in that match, conceding 43 runs, but that wasn’t enough for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to overhaul MI’s 209, losing by 18 runs in the end.

However, thereafter, McClenaghan showed his true potential as a menacing limited-overs bowler. Not only did he add vital venom to the misfiring Mumbai attack, but inspired Lasith Malinga to find his form back too. The two started wrecking havoc in tandem and won their team plenty of matches. READ: Mitchell McClenaghan asked Sachin Tendulkar for coaching lessons during IPL 2015

McClenaghan’s role in Mumbai Indians’ dramatic change in fortunes can’t be understated. MI won eight of the 10 matches he played, in stark contrast to the four consecutive defeats they endured prior to his inclusion in the playing XI. He picked up 14 wickets off those 10 matches and many of those were incredibly crucial.

He bowled very well overall, apart from the odd bad game, but his best performance perhaps was in a knock-out clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), match 56 of the IPL. The outcome of the match was to decide who would make it to the playoffs.

The pressure didn’t cause an alteration in McClenaghan’s ‘go-for-the-kill’ approach though. He bowled in the corridor outside off, at times went for the brutal short ball, and even backed himself to tempt batsmen with fuller length balls. The ploy came off.

McClenaghan claimed three wickets for 16 runs in his four overs, as the opposition were bowled out for a mere 113. Moreover, his wickets included the vital scalps of in-form David Warner and Eoin Morgan. MI won the match by nine wickets and McClenaghan was crowned Man of the Match. READ: Mitchell McClenaghan’s clinical spell helps Mumbai Indians restrict Sunrisers Hyderabad to 113 in IPL 2015

McClenaghan has the tendency to be expensive at times, thanks largely to his search for constant wickets as opposed to simply containing batsmen. Surely for the remaining matches in IPL 8, he will go for the kill and if it comes off, it will be difficult to stop Mumbai from lifting the title.

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)