It’s true when they say that Mumbai Indians is a family. The franchise has always looked to retain their core and that has worked wonders for this franchise. The bond between their players and their support staff has enriched with every passing year.
Mumbai Indians have one of the strongest scouting systems in the IPL. Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya are amongst the finest players this franchise has ever produced. Mumbai have some very strong cricketing brains in their ranks. John Wright, Robin Singh & Rahul Sanghvi have often been the minds behind MI’s auction strategies.
But miscalculation can get to even the finest of people and Mumbai Indians’ think tank is no exception. Over the years, there have been many MI players who haven’t performed to their potential and they could be looked down upon as poor recruits.
Here is a list of 5 worst signings ever made by the Mumbai Indians in IPL history
1. Ricky Ponting
Can a player with 27,483 runs in international cricket be a part of a group of worst signings ever made? Yes, he can. T20 is altogether a different ball game. Ricky Ponting was picked up by MI in the IPL 2013 auctions for a massive 400,000 USD. With his inclusion, MI boasted of a dream opening pair of Sachin & Ponting. But all the hype surrounding Ponting soon faded away.
Ricky managed only 52 runs in 5 matches and soon found himself out of the playing XI. Mumbai surely expected much more from a player of his class but he was way below par. The fact that MI spent a huge amount of money on him made his signing look even poor.
In every match that he played, his strike rate was below 100 and that put a lot of pressure on MI’s middle order. What looked like a big move soon turned into a nightmare. Although Ricky was pretty good as a coach, one has to admit that his inclusion as a player was a wrong decision.
2. Yuvraj Singh
For close to a decade, Yuvraj Singh stood as a pillar of the Indian middle order, securing some famous wins over the years. His ability to go big fetched him the biggest contracts in back to back IPL seasons in 2014 and 2015. When Mumbai bought Yuvi in 2019, it felt as if it could strengthen their middle order.
But sadly, it did not. Yuvi could score only 98 runs in 4 matches which included one fifty. He looked toothless against pacers and was also beaten for pace at times. Yuvraj’s inclusion meant that a young and promising Ishan Kishan had to warm the bench.
Yuvi often slowed down the run rate in the middle overs and if not for Hardik and Pollard’s fireworks, Mumbai would have had to settle for much lower scores in the last season. Although Yuvi will be remembered as a legend of the game, his IPL stint with Mumbai Indians will go down as one of the bad decisions made by the franchise.
3. Dilhara Fernando
Fernando, a Sri Lankan pacer was picked up by MI for 150,000 USD, as one of the lead bowlers along with Pollock and Nehra. The right-arm pacer went for over 10 runs per over in his debut game. Fernando was hit all over the park as he gave away 164 runs in 5 matches. His higher economy rates released all the pressure that had been created by bowlers from the other end.
The event that highlighted Fernando’s struggles took place when Mumbai Indians faced Rajasthan Royals in a must-win game in the 53rd match of the season (2008). Dilhara Fernando was handed the responsibility to take MI home and had to defend 15 runs in the last over to do the same.
Fernando’s poor execution at the death brought down the equation to 3 runs off 1 ball. But to make matters worse, he bowled a wide delivery down the leg side to hand the advantage to Rajasthan. With the help of some shoddy work from Mumbai, the Royals went on to secure a famous win. Dilhara was surely expected to fare better, but he put up a dismal show. His debut season with MI was surely not up to the standards.
4. Tim Southee
The 2008 U19 World Cup gave rise to two players who took big strides in international cricket – Virat Kohli & Tim Southee. Tim was New Zealand’s strike bowler in the World Cup and soon made his way to the national setup. His accurate yorkers along with his ability to move the ball gave him an IPL contract worth INR 2.2 crore with Mumbai Indians in 2016.
He formed the core of MI’s bowling attack along with Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell McClenaghan. Southee could not deliver in the subcontinent as he was hammered for as many as 329 runs in 11 matches and managed to pick up only 9 wickets.
He conceded close to 30 runs every match and that took a toll on Mumbai’s performance. Having secured the services of 3 pacers like Bumrah, Mitch and Hardik, was it a good move to shell out big bucks on Southee? Well, the stats certainly do not suggest so and hence Souhthee’s inclusion will be looked upon as a wrong move.
5. Richard Levi
In February 2012, a young South African cricketer had just broken the record for the fastest T20I century, held earlier by the likes of Gayle and McCullum. His power-hitting fetched him a dream contract with the Mumbai Indians and fans expected a similar effort from this lad.
He took off from where he left by scoring a 35 ball 50 which helped MI cruise past CSK. But surprisingly, that was all he had to offer. He scored only 33 runs in the next 5 matches, that included two noughts and two single-digit scores.
A player that had taken the cricketing world by storm, faded away as quickly as he rose. The Mumbai think tank had hastily signed him up and may well consider that as a poor signing.
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