By Vinay Kumar/New Delhi
When Kiwi all-rounder Corey Anderson, fastest to score an ODI hundred, went under the hammer and the Mumbai Indians bought him at theIPL 7 auction, many feared if the fate of the left-hander would be same as that of Australian Glenn Maxwell, who ‘played’ for them in 2013. But after a quiet IPL, Corey Anderson stole the limelight and a play-off berth from the Rajasthan Royals, hitting a 44-ball 95 to set up a miraculous win for MI.
The title defence
The 2013 champions’ title defence began much earlier than they played their first match in Abu Dhabi against the Kolkata Knight Riders, and it went all wrong. With Sachin Tendulkar announcing his retirement from IPL during the victory lap last year, MI retained much of their remaining star power from the previous edition. But the team management missed a trick here. In the previous editions, MI was found wanting of a stable opening pair and instead of laying their hands upon some of the best openers at the auction, they even let go Dwyane Smith, who played a major role in making them the champs. Although they bought Mr. Cricket, Michael Hussey, but his role in the side remained a mystery.
Consider this for a record – L, L, L, L, L. This was MI’s run in the UAE. They tried four opening pairs, none of them fired. The big guns were not firing nor were their bowlers rattling the stumps. The men in blue lacked the zeal to defend their tag of the ‘champions.’ Only once they crossed the 150-run mark in five matches and the bowlers could never manage to bowl out more than half of the opposition’s batting.
Playin at their fortress Wankhede Stadium, MI were back to winning ways when they beat the invincible Kings XI Punjab. Then it was the Royal Challengers Bangalore. No one was able to conquer the fortress until the Chennai Super Kings beat them by four wickets. It was at this point of time that MI roped in Lendl Simmons as their opener and the West Indian, after only seven games, has 327 runs at an average of 54.50 and a strike-rate just a shade under 133. Also, he is the first centurion of this year’s IPL.
During all this, MI was still seventh in the points table. They lost one more match out of the next six and thanks to other results; they were still in the reckoning for the play-offs. Finally, it was RR playing MI in a virtual play-off to decide the playoffs. Chasing 190 from just 14.3 overs to qualify on behalf of better net run-rate, MI were four down before the tenth over continued…