IPL, Indian Premier League is one of the most successful franchise-based tournaments in cricket and if we talk about IPL and do not mention Mumbai Indians, we will not do justice to either of these. Mumbai Indians has won 5 IPL titles, the most in the history of IPL. 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020 have been the years of Mumbai Indians, And even when Mumbai Indians fails to clinch the title, the team manages to win hearts.
Mumbai Indians had given the lead of the team to the God of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar in its formative years, and that turned out to be splendid for the franchise. Since then, the franchise has hardly ever gone wrong with its selection of players. The secret lies in keeping the core team strong and bringing in new talent to the field so that they also get an opportunity to shine and make their mark. Right now the team is being led by one of the most successful white-ball batsmen, Rohit Sharma.
According to the rules, each IPL team is allowed to retain only 3-5 of their players and has to change the rest of the team. Mumbai Indians’ strategy has been to retain the core group and experiment with the rest of the team. Today we are going to have a look at the worst player releases by the MI in the history of IPL.
10. Manish Pandey
Manish Pandey is one of the most talented fielders that has ever had. Sadly, Manish could not capitalize on the chances given to him on international platforms. Manish Pandey was good mix of skills, looks, and fluency in the language, all that makes a player more popular amongst fans but that could not happen for Manish Pandey.
Pandey started his IPL journey with MI in the inaugural season but could not get many chances as he failed to impress the franchise and fans. In his first season, he could only score 3 runs in 2 innings. The player was released by MI and next season he played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. It’s when he scored the first 100 scored by an Indian in IPL. He had hit 114 off 78 balls. This inning turned his career around in IPL. He has been an integral part of the batting lineup for the teams he has played since then.
Mumbai Indians has always been lucky to have great players play for them but Manish Pandey’s inclusion could have brought an X-factor to the team.
9. Zaheer Khan
Zaheer Khan was the first bowler to bowl knuckleball; his line and length were marvelous and his ability to swing the ball both ways was lethal even for the best of the batsmen in the world. After all these qualities mentioned here, it is easy to estimate that he could only be an asset to any tea he played for. He played for Mumbai Indians and was an important part of the team between 2009-2010. He took 21 wickets at an economy rate of 7.5 runs per over.
After this season he was a part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and he played even more splendidly than the last season. Zaheer Khan made his comeback to MI for one more season which happened in 2014 and then he joined Delhi Daredevils, now Delhi Capitals, for his last 3 seasons of IPL.
Zaheer Khan has picked up 76 wickets apart from his career with MI, at an economy rate of 7.25 runs per over. He is now the Director of Cricket Operations for Mumbai Indians which is odd as MI did not give this bowler the credit he deserved during his playing days.
8. Glenn Maxwell
In the initial days, Maxwell was picked up by the Delhi Daredevils but did not get enough chances. His talent was visible even during those short innings that came his way. Looking at the potential of the player MI got Maxwell in its team and paid a million dollars for him. Everybody expected Maxwell to be getting more opportunities now but in his new team too, Maxwell was seen warming the bench which was quite heart-wrenching for the player.
Maxwell played only 3 matches for MI and scored 36 runs at a strike rate of 133.33. But 2013 turned out to be his year where he hit 37 off 14 balls which helped the team score over 200 and as a result, the MI won their second title.
One would think that MI would like to repeat the player in the coming seasons but Maxwell was sold to the Kings XI Punjab, now Punjab Kings and there he had the best season a player could have. Maxwell became on the main reasons behind KXIP ending up as the runners-up in 2014.
Though Maxwell has not been very consistent after 2014. Apart from being a part of MI, he has scored 1692 runs in 86 matches at a strike rate of 154.
7. Robin Uthappa
Uthappa played his first season for MI in 2008 and played quite decently. In his journey of 14 matches, he scored 320 runs at an average of 35.55. He is also the only orange cap winner who also managed to win the tournament the same year. Despite his decent play for MI, Uthappa was not retained and went on to play for many different franchises. His dream run with KKR is something that nobody can forget. He played 4 seasons for the team and the team qualified for the playoffs thrice in those four seasons, having won once in 2014.
He is not only a batsman but can be a handy wicket-keeper. If Uthappa would have retained, it would save MI the trouble of buying multiple wicket-keepers after every two-three years.
6. Dwayne Smith
Dwayne Smith has killer batting skills and if that wasn’t enough, he even has a knack for breaking partnerships with his seam bowling. He started with MI in 2008 and played three matches for the team. It turned out to be an average season for Dwayne and he wasn’t retained by the franchise.
But this wasn’t all for the player and the franchise. He was brought back in 2012 and was one of the star players when MI won its first-ever IPL title in 2013. Dwayne played 20 matches this season and scored 575 runs at an average of 32. He took four wickets for the team but this was not the best that the player could do because he showed what he was capable of in the coming years when he was playing for Chennai Super Kings. He played two seasons for Chennai Super Kings and two for Gujarat Lions and scored 1528 runs; took 15 wickets.
Though we cannot say that MI did not like the skills of the player because that wasn’t the reason behind Dwayne’s drop from the team. The franchise could retain only 2 foreign players and MI chose Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard.
5. Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane’s story is a true rag to riches tale. A boy from the suburbs of Mumbai became the vice-captain of the Indian Test team. Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy have seen Ajinkya Rahane’s best game. He kept churning runs for Mumbai in these tournaments which brought him in the limelight and everybody knew that MI would like to keep this raw talent for itself.
Ajinkya Rahane played 10 matches for the franchise and scored 148 runs at an average of 18.50. Rahane got enough chances to perform and prove himself but the pressure was just too much for the newcomer. He wasn’t retained by MI for the next season and Rajasthan Royals picked up the player. This was the best thing that could happen to the new talent. He flourished under the mentorship of Rahul Dravid and ended up becoming the captain of the team.
Ajinkya Rahane has scored 3793 runs apart from his stint with MI at an average of 32.50 and at the strike rate of around 125 in 132 matches.
4. Ambati Rayudu
Rayudu was known as the crisis man Mumbai Indians from 2010-2017. He was a true utility player as he did everything that the team was in need of. From keeping wickets to playing in the middle order, Rayudu did everything for the MI.
He played 114 matches for the team and scored 2416 runs at an average of 25.70 at a strike rate just below 130. During his run with the team, MI won the title thrice. But when he was released from MI, that’s when he actually flourished. He joined Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni brought out the fierce player inside him. With Dhoni, he played 52 matches and scored 1379 runs at an average of 32.83. This must be a sore point for MI considering the rivalry between both teams.
3. Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler is one of the cleanest hitter of his time and nobody but he has the quality of opening a match as splendidly as he can finish it. Buttler played 24 matches for MI in 2 seasons and scored 527 runs at an average of 25.10 and a strike rate of below 145. Though his true talent came into play when he joined Rajasthan Royals. He has played 4 seasons for RR and scored 1471 runs at an average of 41.17 and at a strike rate that touches 150. MI traded Buttler for Quinton de Kock who turned out to be fabulous for them otherwise this could have been the biggest blunder that MI ever made.
2. Yuzvendra Chahal
Yuzvendra Chahal started his career with MI at the base price of 10 lakh and he played for the team from 2011 to 2013. Though the presence of Hrabhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha in the team. He did not get to play till 2013. He had impressed everyone in the Champions League T20 in 2011 and ended up with 2/9 in 3 overs.
MI did not go for the player in 2014 and RCB grabbed this opportunity. Since then RCB and Yuzvendra Chahal have become synonymous. He is one of the main bowlers for the team. He has played 105 matches and has taken 125 wickets at a bowling economy of fewer than 8 runs per over. His great performance in RCB got him a secure place in Virat Kohli-led India team and he has been captain Kohli’s go-to spinner.
Bravo must be the best all-rounder in the history of T20 cricket. He also holds the record of most wickets in the T20 format. He started his IPL career with Mumbai Indian and had a good run from 2008-2010. During this time he played 30 matches and scored 457 runs at an average of 21.76 and a strike rate below 120. He took 26 wickets too during these 3 years. But like so many others on our list, Bravo also reached his full potential after joining CSK, Dhoni utilized all his strengths, as a bowler, a finisher, and an excellent fielder. He has played 99 matches for CSK which have been covered in splendid 9 seasons of Bravo with the franchise. He has taken 113 wickets at an economy of less than 8 runs per over. Bravo could have turned the game around for MI. Mumbai Indians might have won 7 instead of 5 titles by this time. But we all know this is not what happened.
MI sure must have regrets about letting this player go. We can only hope that that the most successful franchise must have learned something from these 10 blunders.