Mumbai Indians has been the most successful team in the history of the Indian Premier League, winning five titles. Season after season, the team has raised the bar and has ensured that it plays fearless, highly competitive cricket.
Zaheer Khan, the team’s director of cricket operations, believes that this time, too, the side has all the firepower to make things count.
What are your thoughts on the team ahead of yet another edition of the IPL?
We’re very happy with the team. As always, we have created a strong and competitive squad. To be honest, a big auction also gives you the chance to plan ahead and work on balancing short and long-term goals as a team. We have managed to retain the core of the squad. And with the exciting buys, created a fine mix between experience and youth.
We have a tradition of encouraging and promoting fresh talent. This year too, we have invested in a few youngsters. They were identified by our scouts who rate them very highly. We welcome them and hope to see them excel on the field.
In the auction, Mumbai Indians took a bit of time before going for its target players. What was the whole plan?
We are known for starting slow and ending on a high. I think a lot of our fans must have felt intrigued on the first day but now they know what we were saving for.
To be honest, an auction is not about moments. It is about going with a strategy and sticking by it. Yes, it is unpredictable and filled with surprises but you have to stay committed to your strategy and not get too carried away. This auction for us was all about being patient in the beginning and signing off in style.
As we have done in the past too, we decided to retain the core and build a team which would do well over a long period and build on our strong legacy.
Many feel that Jofra Archer was part of a long term investment. What was the idea behind getting him at such a huge price despite him being unavailable this season?
Yes, of course, he is part of a long term plan for us, not necessarily restricted to one or two years. Jofra is one of the most talented and dangerous cricketers in the world. He adds a new dimension to our squad.
He’s definitely going to form a lethal combination with Bumrah and it will be a treat to watch them operate in tandem, winning games for us. We’re excited to have him in the side and we can’t wait to have him play for Mumbai Indians with full fitness next year.
Great respect: “Rohit Sharma is a player’s captain. He’s been phenomenal for Mumbai Indians over the years as a player and a leader. The fact that he dedicates personal time to each individual and is very approachable makes him a role model and a standout leader,” says Zaheer. – B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM
How much of an advantage is the fact that the tournament will be held across Mumbai and Pune, since the team is aware of the conditions?
Yes, Mumbai has been our home but it’s not that we’re playing all our matches at Wankhede. If you see, all teams are playing relatively the same amount of matches at all venues. So, I don’t think there would be any advantage or disadvantage for any team.
I believe all teams start with a clean slate.
With Rohit Sharma around, what are the plans going forward in terms of grooming a future leader?
Rohit is a player’s captain. He’s been phenomenal for Mumbai Indians over the years as a player and a leader. The fact that he dedicates personal time to each individual and is very approachable makes him a role model and a standout leader. We have always been a team which promotes and gives freedom to youngsters. With Rohit’s experience and attitude, I believe we will have a lot of individuals who would be groomed as leaders in their own respective ways.
How do you assess the star-studded batting line-up that the team has? What are the areas that need to be worked on?
As I said, we have created yet another competitive team. We have always had a very strong batting line-up but at the same time, an enviable bowling unit too, which is why we are the most successful team in the history of the IPL.
I think, as like any previous year, we will aim to play as a cohesive unit which we are known for.