Mumbai Indians are hands-down the best team of the Indian Premier League. Mumbai have won the IPL title five times and also have two Champions League T20 titles in their kitty. No other team comes close to the absolute domination that the team from Mumbai has over the Indian T20 league.
The Indian Premier League began in 2008, with an auction being held before the tournament got underway to decide the players for each team. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also decided to appoint one ‘icon player’ apiece for four of the eight teams. Later, Delhi Daredevils, too, selected an ‘icon player’ for the team. Only Chennai Super Kings, Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals were without the services of an ‘icon player’, who as per the rules, got 15% more money than the highest auctioned player.
While Kolkata Knight Riders had Sourav Ganguly as its ‘icon player’, Royal Challengers Bangalore chose Rahul Dravid for the job. Similarly, Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils chose Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag as their respective ‘icon players’.
For the Mumbai Indians, the choice was unanimous and unsurprising. It was decided that Sachin Tendulkar would be the ‘icon player’ for the team, and would captain the side in the first-ever IPL tournament. And that’s how the story began for the Mukesh Ambani-owned Mumbai Indians. Let us take a look at the players who have captained MI to glory.
While Sachin Tendulkar was chosen as the ‘icon player’ and captain of Mumbai Indians for the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League, he got injured and had to be replaced as the captain by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for the first half of the tournament. Tendulkar, however, duly returned and captained the side for the next four years.
Although Mumbai Indians didn’t have quite the spectacular first season, they started off by losing their first four matches (Harbhajan was captaining Mumbai then). The team, however, bounced back and ended up finishing just outside the top-four position, winning seven of the fourteen matches and missing out of the semi-finals.
For the 2009 season too, MI didn’t perform well and ended up in the seventh position on the league table, winning five matches, and losing eight.
Under Tendulkar’s captaincy, Mumbai Indians won ten of the fourteen league stage matches in the 2010 edition of the IPL. The team qualified for the knock-out rounds and defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore in the semi-finals. Tendulkar’s MI thereafter set up a date with MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in the finals of the 2010 IPL, where they were defeated by CSK by 22 runs.
For the 2011 season under Tendulkar’s captaincy, Mumbai Indians qualified for the knock-outs and defeated Kolkata Knight Riders in the eliminator tie, before losing out to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second qualifiers by 43 runs.
Hours before the start of 2012 edition of the tournament, Sachin Tendulkar stepped down from the captaincy as Harbhajan Singh was appointed the skipper. The legendary batsman never captained Mumbai thereafter.
Not many know that Harbhajan Singh led Mumbai Indians in the initial stages of the inaugural edition of IPL. The Indian offie was given the captaincy duties as Sachin Tendulkar got injured before the start of the 2008 season. Under Bhajji’s leadership, however, MI lost the first four matches by relatively huge margins.
Harbhajan was later suspended for the 2008 season of the IPL after slapping fellow Indian teammate S Sreesanth after MI’s match against Kings XI Punjab. The off spinner was again given the captaincy baton in 2012, after Tendulkar resigned before the tournament.
Bhajji’s team had a decent outing for the 2012 edition, they ended up third in the league standings, winning 10 of the 16 games. The team, however, lost out to Chennai Super Kings in the eliminator match at Chinnaswamy Stadium by 38 runs.
A rare name to lead Mumbai Indians but Shaun Pollock was given the captaincy baton in 2008, after Harbhajan Singh had been suspended for slapping Sreesanth and Tendulkar was yet to return from his injury layover. Mumbai managed to win six out of six games they played under the stewardship of Pollock, before Tendulkar returned and took over the captaincy. Mumbai Indians finished in the seventh position in 2008, with seven wins and as many losses.
The West Indian rockstar, who played for Mumbai Indians during the first three seasons of the tournament captained his side for a solitary match. In doing so, Bravo became the first West Indian player to captain an IPL side. His Mumbai Indians team played Kolkata Knight Riders in 2010, when KKR beat MI by 9 wickets at Eden Gardens in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar.
Mumbai Indians signed Ricky Ponting for $400,000 at the player auction ahead of the 2013 IPL season. Tendulkar had given up captaincy ahead of the 2012 season and his replacement, Harbhajan Singh, didn’t have the spectacular season leading the side that the Mumbai Indians leadership group were looking for.
The franchise made a good start by winning three of their first four games under Ponting’s captaincy. But their opening partnerships weren’t providing good starts and Ponting’s strike-rate wasn’t up to T20 standards. His form was a worrying factor and so he decided to drop himself from the team altogether. Young Rohit Sharma was then given the responsibility of leading the side.
Rohit Sharma thereafter inspired his team to a maiden IPL title, scoring 538 runs throughout the season.
The arrival of Rohit Sharma has turned the fortunes of Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Sharma has led Mumbai to five IPL titles and has made it the most successful franchise in the history of IPL. He took over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting midway through the season, and his team then went onto win the title that season.
Mumbai’s second title win under Sharma’s captaincy came in 2015, when the team defeated Chennai by 41 runs. In the 2017 season, Mumbai Indians finished at the top of the points table, winning 10 out of 14 matches. They went on to win the trophy after beating Rising Pune Supergiant in a nail-biting finish.
Mumbai won two more titles, in 2019 and 2020, under Sharma’s captaincy, making him the undisputed champion and only captain to have led his side to five IPL titles.
Kieron Pollard has been a vital cog for Mumbai Indians over the years now. He joined the franchise back in 2010 and is the most capped player in the team’s history. In the absence of Rohit Sharma in the 2020 season, Kieron Pollard took the responsibility of leading the side