In January, Mitchell McClenaghan was grappling with a career-threatening injury, after a fracture above the left eye was found to be more serious than initially thought.
A speedy recovery saw him make the New Zealand squad for the World Twenty20 and a place in the Mumbai Indians squad for the Indian Premier League. He currently sits on top of the wicket-taking charts with 15 wickets.
McClenaghan sustained the injury while batting in the second Test against Australia. The ball squeezed between the visor of the helmet and grille to strike him on the left eye.
He bled from the eyebrow, and was forced to leave the field and received stitches. It was later revealed that he had suffered a fracture and had bone fragments in the sinus cavity. The injury also forced him to undergo cosmetic surgery.
McClenaghan was ruled out for a while before returning to play for the national side ahead of the WT20. His economical bowling paved the way for his side’s spinners to aim for wickets on the spin-friendly surfaces on offer.
He has continued with his form in the IPL. McClenaghan’s contributions have proved priceless for Mumbai, who were facing the prospect of going through an entire season without the services of the experienced Lasith Malinga.
McClenaghan has shouldered the responsibility commendably. Leading the attack, the Kiwi has only once returned without a scalp in the tournament so far.
His recent performances have made him one of the most effective bowlers in the T20 format. His ability to bowl a number of variations has come in good stead.
McClenaghan has paired up well with Mumbai’s other medium-pacer Jasprit Bumrah. McClenaghan’s effort in the middle overs and Bumrah’s yorkers at the death and have made skipper Rohit Sharma’s life a little easy on the field.
The skipper will hope McClenaghan can continue with his rich vein of form with a playoff berth yet to be sealed. Mumbai Indians do not have the luxury of playing at home, and their new home base in Visakhapatnam will be crucial to their success.
After losing the first game here to Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai will hope for a change in fortune when they face bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab on Friday.
With the city receiving a fair bit of rain on Thursday, similar conditions are expected for match day, and McClenaghan’s pace could prove to be the difference.