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With just 2 wins, 4 losses, a disgraceful controversy, Mumbai must be embarrassed about the giant poster of its star players, reports Kadambari Murali.

cricket Updated: May 07, 2008, 01:10 IST
Kadambari Murali
Kadambari Murali
Hindustan Times

Take a left out of Mumbai airport's arrival terminal and you are welcomed to India's city of dreams by a huge poster of their IPL team. Tendulkar, Jayasuriya, Uthappa and Harbhajan stare down at you with impressively determined expressions.

Well, they must've been focused etcetera etcetera when they posed for these advertisements sometime last month. But we're almost midway through the inaugural edition and with just two wins, four losses, a disgraceful controversy and India's most discussed groin to show from their season so far, someone in the Mumbai management must be embarrassed about that giant poster.

On Wednesday night, still sans the injured Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai will meet Jaipur here in an event that should've been billed at the David vs Goliath clash of the IPL.

After all, on the one hand, you have the mega-bucks and mega-names: A team bought for $111.9 million and a management that spent a whopping $4.296m on just its five biggest buys (Tendulkar, an icon player, Jayasuriya, Harbhajan, Uthappa and Pollock).

On the other, you have a team bought for $67 million and a management that was pulled up for not spending even the minimum $3.3 million required on players at the first auction. Jaipur, incidentally, also spent a relatively modest $2.35 million on its five biggest buys (Kaif, Yusuf Pathan, Smith, Munaf and Warne). But going into their seventh game, Jaipur, who began in terrible fashion against Delhi with a nine-wicket loss, have gone on to record five wins on the trot in what so far, despite the controversies and clashes, is the story of the tournament.

And in buying Warne, cricket's equivalent of rock's ultimate superstars — supremely talented, completely hedonistic and delightfully inspirational — for his base price of $450,000, they have probably pulled off the bargain of the year.

Warne has combined his vast experience with a canny intelligence, natural aggression and a lethal combination of wit and wicked charm to lead in stirring fashion. Many of his younger mates have moved from being awestruck by the man's reputation to idolising the person they have come to know. For still others in the team, he has moved from a place of wary acceptance to one of laughing admiration. But whatever he's done, it's worked so far.

So coming back to our story, at this point of time, you would be hard-pressed to say who's David and who's Goliath.

On paper, given the fairytale story they've spun out of a heady cocktail of grit, guts and tons of unadulterated team spirit, you would have to say that Warne's wunderkinds hold the edge. Watch them at nets and the easy camaraderie shows through. They're chilled out and clearly having a ball.

What Mumbai have going for them though, is the fact that they seem to be starting to regroup and recoup their losses. In Shaun Pollock, they have a calm and experienced skipper who looks like he's finding his feet and then, they will probably have the advantage of 50,000 vocally passionate Mumbaikars willing them to win and inside the D.Y. Patil stadium. Will they or won't they? We'll know by midnight Wednesday.

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