Why have Mumbai Indians been so successful in the last 7 years?

Mumbai Indians have firmly established themselves as one of the greatest if not the greatest T20 teams of all time. Mumbai Indians are not just successful on the field but have also reaped benefits off the field as they have the highest brand value among all IPL franchises. Mumbai Indians were the most expensive team to be sold in 2008 when Mukesh Ambani splashed $111.9 million on the team’s rights. They have mostly played matches at the Wankhede stadium, with a few matches being played at DY Patil Stadium and the Brabourne stadium in the initial years of the IPL.

The Rohit Sharma-led team have won all four of their IPL titles in odd years: 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. When you think of great IPL teams, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings are the first ones that come to mind. While Chennai Super Kings have never failed to qualify for the playoffs, there was a time when Mumbai Indians were not one of the top teams in the league.

Initial Years

In the inaugural season of the IPL, Mumbai Indians were blessed with cricket legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya and Shaun Pollock but they failed to qualify for the playoffs. In 2009, the IPL was shifted to South Africa, and Mumbai Indians form went from bad to worse as the Mukesh Ambani-owned side finish 2nd last with just 5 wins on the board.

In the 2010 IPL campaign, Mumbai Indians managed to reach the finals but lost to Chennai Super Kings in heart-breaking fashion. After this year, the owners of the team decided to set up a system that would allow the coaching staff and players to work throughout the year. They put together a scouting team which included John Wright and Kiran More, among others. They began to watch players from all over the country.

Change in Ideology

John Wright saw Jasprit Bumrah bowl in a Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy game in 2013 and realised he has massive potential. Similarly, Kiran More found the Pandya brothers when they enrolled in his academy. Bumrah was bought for 1.2 crores in 2014 while the Pandya brothers were drafted for just 10 lakh each over the next two seasons. This scouting system has seen young players such as Markande and Chahar come to Mumbai Indians and develop their game.

Mumbai Indians have their playing facility in Navi Mumbai where domestic players can train during the off-season. This facility also takes care of the players’ injuries. This goes to show that Mumbai Indians does not just spot young talent, but they also develop future stars.

Mumbai’s winning mantra

To win an IPL title, a team needs to have a strong Indian core. Mumbai Indians have built their team around 4 Indian players, i.e. Rohit Sharma (15 crores), Hardik Pandya (11 crores), Jasprit Bumrah (7 crores) and Krunal Pandya (8.8 crores). The Wankhede-based outfit has spent a total of 41.8 crores on just 4 players, which is the highest any team has spent on their four most priced assets. Mumbai are one of the only two teams whose four costliest players are all Indians (the other being CSK).

In an IPL team, 7 out of the 11 players have to be Indian, so it is very sensible to prioritise Indian players. For instance, there are many quality foreign batsmen so if you can’t get a David Warner for 12.5 crores, you can opt for someone like a Jos Buttler who costs 4.4 crores and the drop off in quality isn’t significant. But the drop off in rate when Indian players are concerned is massive.

The four players who are at the heart of Mumbai Indians’ team are Rohit, Bumrah and the Pandya brothers. Bumrah offers something which no other Indian pace bowler can offer which is death bowling. Forget Indian fast bowlers, Bumrah has been the best fast bowler in the IPL over the last few years, and there’s no denying that. His economy rate in the IPL is 6.97 which is tremendous when you consider he bowls 2 overs at the death. The next best economy rates among Indian bowlers are Bhuvneshwar Kumar (7.51) and Deepak Chahar (7.60), but these two bowlers seldom bowl at the death. Every other Indian fast bowler has an economy rate in excess of 8, which shows you the drop off in quality I was talking about.

How good are the Pandya brothers?

As far as the Pandya brothers are concerned, they are invaluable gems to the side. India has lacked a genuine all-rounder since decades, and that void was only filled by Hardik Pandya recently. Out of the 10 all-rounders who have taken more than 25 wickets and crossed 500+ runs in the IPL since 2015, only 4 are Indians (Pandya brothers, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja). This stat in itself is staggering as more Indians are allowed into a playing XI, but still, there are more overseas players in this list.

There’s a stat in cricket known as the average differential which is the batting average – bowling average. So basically, this is a stat with the help of which one can understand how efficient an all-rounder is. Krunal Pandya’s average differential is -1.99, while his younger brother’s average differential is -2.39. This means that their batting average is almost the same as their bowling average, which is good. Over the last five seasons, Ravindra Jadeja’s average differential has been -8.57, and Axar Patel has had an average differential of -11.53. The falloff in quality is already visible, but Jadeja and Axar are still considered as competent Indian all-rounders. If teams fail to obtain the services of these players, they have often found themselves relying on Stuart Binny, Washington Sundar and Vijay Shankar.

It is clear that the Pandya brothers are by far the best Indian all-rounders and if you don’t have them in your side, you’re already at a disadvantage. While it is great to have a fantastic overseas batsman or a mysterious Indian spinner, there is an abundance of cricketers who can fill in for those spots which aren’t the case when it comes to Indian all-rounders or Indian fast bowlers.

Use of Statistics

Another key to Mumbai’s success in recent years is the use of data science, which is often used in other sports such as football and baseball but hasn’t created a massive impact in cricket yet. The Mumbai think tank use in-depth statistics to learn specific bowler-batsman match ups. For instance, last season, they knew Virat Kohli averages less against left-arm seamers and used Jason Behrendorff against RCB for the sole purpose of getting the wicket of Chikoo, and that’s precisely what he did. They also dismissed Andre Russell by asking Lasith Malinga to go round the wicket and pitch it short. Again, the plan worked beautifully.

Not afraid to make bold decisions

Mumbai Indians have also let players leave the team if they were proving to be too costly or if a better player was coming through the ranks. They replaced Dinesh Karthik by promoting Ambati Rayudu up the order as he was becoming too expensive for their comfort. Ambati Rayudu played like a true champ and helped Mumbai win a few IPL trophies. When Rayudu was out of form, a young Indian player Nitish Rana was showing promising signs, so they decided to let Rayudu leave the team and continued with Rana. Rana too was replaced by Ishan Kishan in 2018 as Kishan is someone who can also keep wickets which Karthik once did for the side. Hence, the cycle was complete.

Although Mumbai has had a lot of loyal players, they don’t shy away from making changes. They have often benched veterans like Lasith Malinga, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh for the benefit of the team when they felt there were better alternatives. But Mumbai also knows the importance of sticking with loyal players. Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga have been at the Wankhede stadium for a decade now. They have become the pillars of the team and have been instrumental both on and off the pitch.


Due to the aforementioned reasons, Mumbai Indians have established themselves as the best team in IPL history. They have not only won 4 IPL titles but also have 2 CLT20 trophies in their illustrious trophy cabinet. They appointed Sachin Tendulkar as their icon player and captain in the inaugural edition of the IPL. During his last season, they won their first IPL trophy which acted as a perfect send-off for the master blaster. Under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy, they have been ruthless and won trophies in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Moreover, the side has just failed to reach the playoffs (narrowly missing out) on two occasions since setting up the scouting network.

This season is just a few days away, and Mumbai Indians are favourites to defend their title and become only the second team to win back to back IPL crowns. We will have to wait and watch whether or not Hitman will be able to lift the trophy for the 5th time, but one thing is for sure that Mumbai Indians have written a glorious chapter in the book of IPL history during the last 7 campaigns.

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