Glamour and batting is hallmark of Mumbai Indians

April 10th, 2008 - 12:48 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
(Team Profile)

Mumbai, April 10 (IANS) For sheer glamour quotient, Mumbai Indians are matchless. Their captain Sachin Tendulkar’s stature is enough for Mukesh Ambani to rake in profits in the first year itself, having spent $111.9 million to buy the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 side - the costliest of the eight teams auctioned. While every team would like to be the champion side, winning just the first prize of $1.2 million might not have been the top priority of the business tycoons and Bollywood stars who have invested millions of dollars in the IPL. But for coaches, captains and players, cricket will surely come first. It is no different with the Mumbai Indians.

Although money is no problem for the Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance group, no businessman would like to splurge without adequate mileage from investment in return.

An indication as to which way the Mumbai Indians are headed in the tournament can be had April 20 when they play Chennai Super Kings.

Strengths: Mumbai’s strong suit is their batting, and the biggest attraction will be their dream opening pair Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya, who sees the opportunity to open with the Indian maestro as the high point of his career. A few early blows from the seasoned campaigners would make the virtues of line and length a mockery.

Mumbai’s batting, as a whole, is quite strong with Robin Uthappa, hard-hitting South African Loots Bosman, his compatriot Ashwell Prince and Australians Luke Ronchi and Dominic Thornley. They will be supported by promising youngsters Abhishek Nayar and Pinal Shah.

Availability of all the top players is another Mumbai’s huge plus. “A 100 percent availability was one of the important factors we looked into (at the player auction),” R. Balachandran, president and chief marketing officer Reliance Retail as well as the official signatory to the IPL Mumbai team, told IANS discussing their auction strategy.

A glance through the team reveals that all the key senior players are available for all the matches — Tendulkar, Harbhajan, Shaun Pollock, Prince, Bosman, Jayasuriya, Malinga and Fernando besides of course all the other Indians.

Weaknesses: Comparatively, Mumbai’s bowling looks weak. But pacers Pollock, Malinga, Fernando and comeback man Ashish Nehra can be dangerous and spinners Harbhajan and Jayasuriya will be more than a handful. No doubt, they form a potent force as a unit, but they pale a bit when compared with some of the other teams.

Advancing age is another factor that could affect not just their bowling, but also the fielding which is of prime importance in the Twenty20 matches. Jayasuriya (38), Tendulkar (will be 35 in a few days), Pollock (34), Fernando (28) and Harbhajan Singh (27) are spring chicken. And 28-year-old Nehra, who is trying to stage a comeback after his ankle injury, will have to ensure that he does not aggravate his injury while charging in.

Wicket keeping could also prove to be a weak link as New Zealand-born Ronchi, expected to be the first choice, is not so experienced. Shah, who also opens the batting for Baroda in domestic cricket, will apparently be on standby.

Key players: Much of Mumbai’s fortunes will depend on how Tendulkar, Jayasuriya and Harbhajan perform in a format that they are not too familiar with. Tendulkar has played just five Twenty20 matches and Jayasuriya only 14 while only Harbhajan has a bit of experience with 23 outings. Theor collective experience should offset the disadvantage of their advancing years.

Key youngsters: Left-handed batsman Saurabh Tiwary who was a member of the Indian team that won the under-19 World Cup recently, promising batsman Nayar, Shah, and hard-hitting batsman Gaurav Dhiman are some of the youngsters to watch out for.

Venues: Matches involving Mumbai Indians will be played at the Wankhede Stadium and at the newly built D.Y. Patil Stadium in Nerul, Navi Mumbai. Wankhede Stadium, also the venue of the 2011 World Cup final, was to undergo massive renovation, but the work has been deferred till the completion of the IPL. The two semi-finals as well as the final are to be played at the Wankhede Stadium.

Squad (along with available prices): Sachin Tendulkar (Ind/icon/$1,121,000), Sanath Jayasuriya (SL/$975,000), Harbhajan Singh (Ind/$850,000), Robin Uthappa (Ind/$800,000), Shaun Pollock (SA/$550,000), Lasith Malinga (SL/$350,000), Dilhara Fernando (SL/ $150,000), Loots Bosman (SA/$175,000), Ashwell Prince (SA/$50,000), Luke Ronchi (Aust/$25,000), Dominic Thornley (Aus/$25,000), Ashish Nehra (Ind), Rajesh Pawar (Ind), Abhishek Nayar (Ind), Ajinkya Rahane (Ind), Ankeet Chavan (Ind), Dhaval Kulkarni (Ind), Gaurav Dhiman (Ind), Musavir Khote (Ind), Pinal Shah (Ind), Rohan Raje (Ind), Saurabh Tiwary (Ind), Siddharth Chitnis (Ind), Swapnil Singh (Ind), Vikrant Yelligeti (Ind) and Yogesh Takawale (Ind)

Support staff: Lalchand Rajput (coach), Harsha Bhogle (advisor), Nitin Patel (physiotherapist) and Aijaz Ashai (assistant physiotherapist)

Team jersey and logo: Jersey colour blue and a spinning Sudarshana Chakra, leaving a trail of saffron, white and green, is the logo

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