Ishan Kishan and Surya Kumar Yadav. (BCCI/IPL Photo)
to prosper, first as a batsman and then as a leader, to giving the likes of
the right opportunities to find their feet,
were always looking at the bigger picture while running the franchise.
It was about creating an environment that wouldn’t just look at the
from season to season but take a step further towards bringing talent and accomplishment to an inflection point.
This week, that very intent received another shot in the arm when two more cricketers from the Mumbai Indians camp –
Surya Kumar Yadav
– got picked for the Indian team, thanks to a brilliant showing in the IPL’s 13th edition.
Ishan’s 516 runs from 13 innings at a strike rate of 145.76 and four half centuries; Surya’s 480 runs from 15 innings at a strike rate of 45.01 and four half centuries – were among the performances that lit up one of IPL’s most glorious editions played in the middle of a pandemic.
Pic credit: BCCI/IPL
With Rohit Sharma top of the order and Hardik Pandya waiting in the middle-order, Ishan and Surya’s hefty contributions were the reason MI looked unbeatable throughout the tournament.
Their getting picked for the T20 matches against England, scheduled after the Test series, is another reminder of how MI’s ecosystem has been developing over the last few years.
“We believe that we have the environment to help individuals reach their potential,” MI owner Akash Ambani said on the day of the players’ auction when the franchise spent less than Rs 12 crore to buy the likes of Adam Milne, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Neesham, Marco Jansen and Piyush Chawla.
Akash has always had a huge appetite for cricket-viewing, a habit born out of the family’s love for the game. Over the years, at MI, the 30-year-old has been busy cultivating it with added perspectives, and a bit of it has also come out of his interest in football.
“There are a lot of similarities I see in the ecosystem that football has grown. There’s a scouting network, there’s coaching, there’s performance, there’s videos and analytics. And that’s what we’ve basically tried to emulate at Mumbai Indians – have multiple disciplines with one goal in purpose of getting everything in place and making sure we have clarity in our vision about what we want to achieve,” he told TOI.
That vision, he explains, is not just about participating in a tournament with the only intention of winning it, albeit his team successfully pulling off the feat for the fifth time since 2013. It’s about trying to create an institution which believes in the ideology of providing every player with the platform to progress and achieve the right potential.
“Just like in club football, if we look at the big picture, all of this falls into the five or six disciplines that I mentioned. Those really are the learnings I took from the footballing world and applied it to franchise club cricket,” adds Akash.
Surya and Ishan, for instance, were identified and nurtured for the last three years of the game in every aspect – physical and mental – and specific positions were created in the team for the two cricketers to settle in. While Surya had already been busy making his bones in the First-Class circuit for Mumbai, Ishan – relatively raw and younger – went through his share of nudging and mentoring before finally coming into his own this season.
In recent years, Mumbai Indians have expanded their scouting program to international shores too, of which cricketers like Alzzari Joseph and Marco Jansen are examples. The 20-year-old Jansen, for instance, was watched by Mumbai Indians for over the last two years before being picked up in the recent player auctions.
The likes of
, Nitish Rana, Rahul Chahar, Mayank Markande, Rasikh Salam,
– who have gone on to play for other franchises – were first brought on board by the Mumbai Indians.
“Two years ago, we started to build our own training facility at R City and that’s really been incredible for us. Because the players can come and do whatever they want. Train, use the indoor facilities. The stadium has been built keeping the training facilities in mind more than playing matches and it’s been hugely beneficial. So, we knew that the facility was ready, players were around,” says Akash, having thrown open the doors to the state-of-the-art facility in Navi Mumbai that cricketers are now free to use.
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