One lesson Mumbai Indians learnt in the last five seasons of the Indian Premier League was that money alone can't buy success. Their line-up is a matter of envy for the other franchises. An IPL title though has eluded them, but only just.After two forgettable seasons, they reached the final in 2010. In the next two, they qualified for the play-offs with ease before failing to cross the hurdle. They do have the consolation of having won the Champions League in 2011.
As they step into the new season, there is renewed hope generated by a new captain, coach and mentor in Ricky Ponting, John Wright and Anil Kumble. The brilliant cricket brains and Sachin Tendulkar in the group, Mumbai have all the bases covered.
However, it's performance that will matter. Skipper Ponting, whose return to the IPL after four years has come after his retirement from international cricket, believes Mumbai can go all the way this time. "There are still a few teams in this competition that haven't won the tournament either," said Ponting. "Every team puts together a fantastic squad of players. We're not thinking about winning the IPL right now, we're just preparing for tomorrow's game. We have to just concentrate on doing the basics well. And if we do that, I'm sure that come the end of the tournament, we will be right up there."
Mumbai's campaign also throws up the mouth-watering prospect of Ponting and Tendulkar batting together. And they do have a complete T20 package in Kieron Pollard and the strongest contingent of Indian players in Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Munaf Patel and Pragyan Ojha. And at the Chinnaswamy stadium, they have not lost a single match to the RCB in four meetings.
Mumbai, however, will miss Sri Lankan slinger Lasith Malinga for the first two matches as he is suffering from a sore back. That means they will have to be wary of the explosive Chris Gayle.
The RCB opener has set the IPL on fire in the last two seasons. And if the West Indies left-hander gets going under the lights, he can kill the contest.