The Mumbai Indians’ (MI) performance has been a team effort and the interesting part is that unlike other teams, only two in the side, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan, wear Mumbai colours in domestic cricket. The aces up MI sleeves are talent drawn from across the country.
For any IPL XI, the performance of the seven Indian players is crucial. For MI, these seven players usually include five who ply their trade with teams other than Mumbai in domestic cricket (see graphic).
It’s surprising for three reasons. First, Mumbai are a very strong domestic side. Second, most IPL franchises have chosen to invest in local talent to create a greater connect with fans. The third is that only one of those five – Harbhajan Singh – is an India player. The team management has taken a risk with non-established outsiders and it seems to be paying off.
In IPL II, Mumbai lads Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ajinkya Rahane played quite a few matches. This time, Nayar and Kulkarni are in the squad but not getting games. Their state-mates like Rohit Sharma (Deccan Chargers), Ajit Agarkar and Iqbal Abdulla (Kolkata Knight Riders) and Ramesh Powar (Kings XI Punjab) are with other teams.
Let’s compare MI with other teams with a strong cricket base. Foreigners aside, a typical Royal Challengers Bangalore XI has five players from Karnataka and two from outside. The Delhi Daredevils have the same composition, while the Super Kings have four players from Tamil Nadu and three from outside.
The Rajasthan Royals depend entirely on players from other states but this is because the state has a weak domestic side. The Kings XI too have players from other parts. There is one local player in Yuvraj Singh, but they have just one win from eight outings.