New Delhi: The Indian Premier League’s latest million- dollar baby, Glenn Maxwell, must be laughing all the way to the bank. Especially because for all the money splashed on him, there is no certainty that he will be a fixture in the Mumbai Indians’ line- up in IPL- VI. Mumbai are spoiled for choice when it comes to quality international players. They have one of the most feared T20 batsmen, West Indies’ Kieron Pollard, the best T20 pacer in Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga, and three effective all- rounders in Mitchell Johnson, James Franklin and Dwayne Smith.
On Sunday, at the IPL auction in Chennai, they managed to add to that collection the legendary Ricky Ponting, the agingbut- effective Jacob Oram, Australia’s next big batting hope Phillip Hughes and a young seamer in Nathan Coulter- Nile.
In such a scenario, which four foreign players will feature in their XI will be a selectorial nightmare for their team management, which has been revamped to include John Wright as coach, Anil Kumble as mentor, and with Sachin Tendulkar rumoured to come back as captain after Harbhajan Singh stepped down.
Mumbai’s owners, Mukesh and Nita Ambani, have deep pockets and have never held back when it comes to spending money, but apart from one Champions League Twenty20 title in 2011, they have not much to show for it. At the same time, the pennypinching Rajasthan Royals and the cash- strapped Deccan Chargers both won the IPL once each, the Chennai Super Kings twice ( plus one CLT20) and the Kolkata Knight Riders once.
The biggest problem for Mumbai over the years has been to find a stable and productive opening partner for Sachin Tendulkar, and all sorts of players — from Herschelle Gibbs to Richard Levi to Franklin to Smith and Davy Jacobs have tried and failed.
And so, while it does make sense to buy Maxwell and slot him alongside the Master straight up, it is yet another risk which may not come off.
Maxwell has opened for Australia just twice in ODIs, scoring a fifty and a duck last week, and is a very raw player. His off- spin, which Virender Sehwag used for the Delhi Daredevils last year is serviceable at best but his fielding can make up for it.
On the other hand, Hughes, despite his ungainly technique, is a natural opener who can also score quite quickly, and isn’t as much of a risk as Maxwell.
But in terms of balancing cost, effectiveness and sheer star power, Mumbai would do well to have Maxwell, Pollard and Malinga as shoo- ins in the first XI, with the fourth foreigner’s slot a toss- up between Ponting ( when an extra batsman is needed), Johnson (extra seamer) and Franklin.
It could be Mumbai’s year if Maxwell comes off, but even if he doesn’t, they have adequate backup. And since it’s just a one- year contract, they wouldn’t be losing as much as they would’ve for a longer deal.
Mumbai Indians are loaded with quality foreign players and Maxwell may not get a chance to justify his pricetag immediately