Mumbai Indians, a team of cricketing legends and global superstars was formed in 2008 during the inaugural year of the Indian Premier League. Mumbai and India’s most iconic player Sachin Tendulkar was one of the four Icon Players that were named to play for their respective cities. The Mumbai brigade has always looked to play fast and play fair and this spirit shows in their history. From the struggle in the initial seasons to winning the first title in 2013, followed the winning sweep in 2015, the team has come a long way.
Our home ground has seen the birth and rise of many famous moments and cricketers in the history of Indian cricket like Vijay Merchant, Sunil Gavaskar and the Master Blaster himself. The first ever match played here was in 1975. The Wankhede stadium, is our playground, our home, our bastion!
Mumbai Indians are one of the most followed franchises in the IPL, both in India as well as abroad. The reason behind this is simple – over the years many cricketing greats from various countries have been a part of the MI family: Sanath Jayasuriya, Ricky Ponting, Shaun Pollock, Sachin Tendulkar, to name a few. Add to that, a list of current superstar players and budding cricketers which include the likes of Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Hardik Pandya Jasprit Bumrah amongst others has led to the soaring popularity of Mumbai Indians.
The inaugural edition was nothing but tough. With Lalchand Rajput as the head coach and Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Shaun Pollock each being the captain at some stage of the tournament, MI started the season well with a win against CSK. In contrast, the team finished fifth in the points table with 7 wins and losses each, having missed the semi-finals spot by one point! The Matara Mauler Sanath Jayasuriya ended up hitting the maximum number of 6s (31) in the tournament, 6 more than his nearest opponent. He was also the third highest run getter.
Owing to the 2009 Indian general elections, the second edition of the IPL was played in the rainbow nation of South Africa. Adjusting to the foreign conditions took time and the team never really recovered. It was also the time to get Zaheer Khan back in the squad and retain the retired Shaun Pollock as the new Head Coach for Mumbai Indians. Riding on partnerships by Sachin Tendulkar and Duminy and Malinga’s bowling efforts, MI had to come up with a better plan to take the team forward as a unit, going forward after ending the season in seventh place.
Close but no cigar!
Leaving the disappointments of the past and rising from the ashes, Mumbai Indians came close to winning the coveted IPL trophy in 2010. The team lost to Chennai in the final, despite a brilliant knock of 48 runs by Tendulkar the skipper. One of the highlights from this season was Sachin winning the Orange Cap for his team, for a prolific run tally of 618 over the season. Mumbai set the highest total yet of 218/7 by the team against any opponent where the little master had scored 63 runs in that match. This was the season when the team acquired a crucial element in their periodic table, one of the most dynamic all-rounders in T20 history: Kieron Pollard.
The Middle Overs:
Learning from their mistakes from the previous season, Mumbai Indians went back to basics and built a squad that would set a precedent for future team selections. Finding the right combination of youth and experience, the team bought Rohit Sharma, Andrew Symonds and Indian pacer Munaf Patel. Malinga or ‘Slinga’, as he’s popularly known for his slinging arm action, has a unique way of bowling a delivery, thanks to practicing bowling with tennis balls as a youngster. His flamboyant personality as a result of taking wickets at will and the funky hairdo has earned him respect amongst the fans making him the crowd favorite Slinga and Munaf ended up as the top two leading wicket takers with 28 and 22 wickets in the season respectively, with Sachin’s highest IPL score of 100 not out against Kochi. The team won four and lost four matches in the first half of 2012. Picking up pace in the second half of the competition, Mumbai won 6 matches and ended up with 20 points to be placed third in the points table.
A fitting farewell for our idol:
Victory is never easy, and for the Mumbai Indians, it came with heartbreak. 2013 saw them shine as champions on the IPL stage to claim their maiden victory. It was also when Mumbai’s champion decided to hang up his boots having won it all for his team over a period of six years. "This is my last IPL" Tendulkar’s words after the decider made it clear that the world saw the Little Master play in the Indian Premier League for the last time. He remains the most capped player as captain for Mumbai Indians. Interestingly; the team also won all of the home games achieving a rare feat in IPL history. Rohit Sharma, who took over as captain from Ricky Ponting in the beginning of the season, won the IPL trophy in his very first attempt.
2015— The Fightback:
Although, Mumbai lost the first four games in 2015, they fought and made an epic comeback from the bottom by winning every game in the tournament right to the final! Mumbai met Chennai in the final for the third time and had set a humongous target of 202. Class acts from the captain Rohit Sharma: 50 runs off 26 balls and opener Lendl Simmons: 68 runs off 45 balls made sure the team won the final match convincingly and were crowned victors for a second time. Mitchell McClenaghan had the best bowling stats in the game with 3 wickets for mere 25 runs. Rohit, was adjudged the Man of the Match as he led from the front and steadied the ship after the team lost a wicket in the very first over.
Young players for the future:
Mumbai Indians have always looked at providing relevant game experience to young contenders and the team’s pick of players proves this: Gems in the form of Saurabh Tiwary (2008-2010), Suryakumar Yadav (2011-2013) in the past and more recently Shreyas Gopal, Hardik Pandya, J Bumrah, Unmukt Chand, Siddhesh Lad, Nathu Singh means the franchise builds both the players and the team for the future with young talent being added every season establishing a fresh and all inclusive squad for the future.