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Monday, October 10, 2011

CL T20 2011 - the success story of Mumbai Indians

Do you know this frail looking spinner ?

Finally, it was the resoluteness of Mumbai Indians that ensured their victory in Champions League T20 2011 finals.   Sure you would have watched or read more about the ordinary lacklustre match which did provide a keen finish – but not the usual tall scoring chase that the earlier matches, especially involving   RCB had shown.

On another hot atmosphere, in front of a good capacity (!) {why and how that capacity got reduced is posted elsewhere !}  -
MI batted first and soon with only 10 on board, Aiden Craig Blizzard needlessly ran himself out on a non-existent run.   Sarul Kanwar who had played one innings of a lifetime hit a huge six but was cleaned by Nannes; Rayudu – Franklin had a decent partnership and after Rayudu departed another one came with Yadav who batted well.  When going was good they were 105/4; Pollard failed, Harbhajan followed and soon MI were 109/7.  a few lusty hits by Malinga took them to 139.  The target was a modest 140 for a line up which boasted of :  Tilakaratne Dilshan, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Mayank Agarwal, Sourabh Tiwary, Mohd Kaif… and which had twice chased 200+ scores with ease…

The Mumbai Indians, the team that played in the Finals was  : 
Foreign Players : A Blizzard, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard & Lasith Malinga.  Indian Players : Sarul Kanwar, Ambati Rayudu, Suryakumar Yadav, Rajagopal Satish, Harbhajan Singh, Abu Nechim,  Yuzvendra Chahal……….
- some names not known even those who regularly follow Indian domestic season and IPL.  Of the 7 – Bhaji who captained is just out of the Indian ODI squad;  Rajagopal Satish & Ambati Rayudu once shone in IPL but are no longer stars in their State Ranji squad – the rest Sarul Kanwar, Yadav, Nechim and Chahal sure may not walk into their State squads…………. – and yet a team won with some contributions from each of them during the tournament.

How did they achieve is not a fairly tale but perhaps one built brick by brick.  First it was team which believed in itself and simply refused to give away.  There have been occasions when they were out of the match but clung bravely and struggled their way out.  They encountered some controversies on the way including relaxation of 4 foreign player to 5 norm.  They were injury ridden including one to S Yadav who was sent out, made a big score in a domestic match, to come back and score useful runs in Semis and finals.

Against Somerset, the match was hanging on fine balance – nay more towards Somerset.....  after 3/4th stage Somerset had wickets in hand and run rate was achievable.. 16th they took runs of Nechim.  the penultimate over had proved the undoing of some teams – remember the over of Dale Steyn being taken apart.  Franklin had not been the best of economical bowlers and had not bowled much prior to the game, still Harbhajan banked on him.  The 2nd ball perhaps was the turning point in a way – Jos Butler smashed a low full toss straight for what looked a certain four but the ball found the non-striker in the way.  Kieswetter who had batted brilliantly and was taking Somerset through was hit on the forearm and he writhed in pain. 3rd ball, Butler was bowled and Kieswetter holed out to long.  Malinga who had disturbed the stumps earlier twice came back to conclude disarranging the stumps twice more. 

In the finals, chasing a modest 140, Dilshan swore to tear them apart hitting boundaries at will.  27 off 20 balls with 5 fours.  Still Malinga had the last laugh cleaning him up.   Bhaji who struggled in England bowled a very good over and concluded trapping dangerman Gayle in front.  Then suddenly the unlikely thing happened – a good spell of Bhaji with the little known little Yuzvendra Chahal spinning a web.  The young attacking leg spinner Chahal had a dream spell of 3-0-9-2 instrumental in choking the RCB for 32 runs less than the target.  Bhaji returned 3/20; Malinga and Nechim took two apiece. 

Disturbed stumps of Sarul Kanwar and T Dilshan

It perhaps was not high on octane nor a grand performance but keenly intense struggle all thew way.    MI played 50 dot balls while RCB blocked 65.  For those who flogged to Chepauk to see big hits of Gayle or Pollard, it was a disappointment. The attempt of Rajagopal Satish to catch Mayank Agarwal at long on was a standout one though eventually the ball slipped out and rolled on to boundary. 

Perhaps some of these put MI through – it was just an ordinary team which suffered more before the start of the tournament through injuries to key players and even the Captain was only a substitute and not the real one !  It was really a team effort with fringe players contributing and more importantly the Management backing them up solidly.  The owner Nita Ambani, wife of Mukesh Ambani was there encouraging them in all their matches and proved to be a great inspiration. (It is another matter that the owner of RCB – Vijay Mallya was also present in all the matches involving RCB). 

Though they were the underdogs by most accounts and their passage to finals was not a certainty, MI had their strategy elaborately drawn.  They had a full complement of support staff, some big names in International Cricket. The strategy was ably devised by team of  Head Coach – Robin Singh, former Indian all rounder and fine fielder himself.  He reportedly held several conditioning and practice camps for the team observing the players from close quarters.    A former Mumbai captain who had played for India as a fast bowler without great success but known for his skills and ability to inspire Team mates – Paras Mhambrey was the Assistant coach.

The most outstanding fielder in the game  Jonathan Neil Rhodes,  was the Advisor-cum-Fielding Coach  and  Shaun Maclean Pollock was the mentor and bowling coach.   He had infact played for MI in IPL and led them in the first half of season 1. 

Then there was  Ramji Srinivasan, the Fitness Trainer;  Patrick Farhart was the  Physiotherapist with Dr Nitin Patel, a sports and spinal physiotherapist.   CKM Dhananjai was the Video analyst. Besides the presence of the effervescent Sachin Tendulkar closer to the dug out proved to be tremendous source of inspiration for the players.

It was not a star studded playing XI but a team that  did their home work well, was paid well, engaged high level of professionals, had good team work, which ensured that an ordinary underrated team finished on top of some other much fancied teams

-       and that is an area from which lot can be learnt for life !!

 Chepauk had always drawn huge crowds, known for its sporting crowd.  The composition has been changing and though the prices of tickets have spiralled up, still the spectator presence has only been going up.  Just as one entered the stadium and took the seat seeing the huge crowds in their stand as well in the adjacent one, one might have been surprised to look at empty yellow stands in what were G, H & I stands situate on the
Bells Road

That was not due to lack of support from the viewers but due to a procedural wrangle (TOI report of 10/10/2011).  It is reported that Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) had not obtained the mandatory no-objection certificate from the Union environment ministry.  As the Association had not responded to the notice, the Chennai Corporation tried to seal the stands two weeks ago, but the management requested them not to do so but promised to keep them empty !  

The crowds and those missing.

Quoting Corporation sources, the newspaper reports that the local body served the notice to the management of M A Chidambaram stadium last year when the renovation work was about to be completed. Reconstruction work at the stadium started in June 2009.This.175-cr project was to make the facilities worldclass and increase spectator capacity to 45,000 from 36,000.  The authorities had obtained NOC for renovation but not for additional stands.   

These 3 stands alone have a capacity close to 10000 and surprisingly these were used during the IPL 4 session. 

Regards – S. Sampathkumar. 


  1. Good one and I enjoyed reading this.. Balaji

  2. I had also been to Chepauk and wondered what that object moving around was.. Thanks for the info. on spider camera - Kannan

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