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Mumbai Indians feed off astute minds

Over the years, the Mumbai Indians seem to have mastered the art of playing to the gallery. Kushal Phatarpekar and Anand Sachar report.

cricket Updated: May 28, 2013 11:06 IST

Over the years, the Mumbai Indians seem to have mastered the art of playing to the gallery.

Before every season, they would pack the side with eye-catching names - Sanath Jayasuriya, Shaun Pollock, Herchelle Gibbs to name a few. For five editions, these players only remained an attraction, as the team would implode when it was time to deliver the knockout punch.

This year was no different, as Mumbai roped in Ricky Ponting. With the mouth-watering prospect of Sachin Tendulkar and Ponting opening the innings, the team once against grabbed eyeballs.

However, what helped the team lift their maiden Indian T20 league title was the presence of a dream backend team. With John Wright taking over as head coach and Anil Kumble as team mentor, shrewd cricketing brains were in place to support the outrageous talent in the team.

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One of the challenges for a coach is management, as players of various nationalities come in with contrasting ideologies. And when a team is filled with legends, handling egos is the biggest test.

Perfect combination
But Wright is no novice to such a situation. When he took over as coach of the India team, he had ventured into similar territory. Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Kumble and Tendulkar were big names.

Wright realised the fact and did not impose himself or his ideas on the team. However, he played an important role in the background and groomed the youngsters. In the process, he was instrumental in teaching India how to win on foreign soil - something that had been missing.

With the Mumbai Indians, Wright combined with Kumble, Tendulkar and Harbhajan. And like he did then, he went about his job quietly.

"John Wright has been a part of the India team, he seems to be clued into what it takes to make a team click in an Indian setting," former Mumbai Indians' coach Lalchand Rajput told HT.

Knowledge factor
"Kumble and Wright have brought with them their wealth of knowledge. With seniors like Sachin and Ponting in the team, the message seems to have culminated the efforts into results," said former Mumbai Indians wicketkeeping coach and chief national selector Kiran More.

When Ponting sat out for most of the tournament, owing to poor form, it was not with drooped shoulders. I fact, he remained active in the leadership group.layers who came in as replacements were up for the fight. Taking over the captaincy from Ponting, Rohit Sharma excelled both as a leader and batsman. And it was Rohit's contribution with the bat along with Dinesh Karthik and Kieron Pollard's that ensured Mumbai boasted of a destructive middle order. Dwayne Smith, who replaced Ponting as opener, too picked up steam in the latter half. Tendulkar’s replacement, Aditya Tare too made an impact.