Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam
New Delhi: Mumbai Indians - defending Indian Premier League champions, sacrificed Ashes hero Mitchel Johnson, to retain Lasith Malinga for the seventh edition. Besides the best bowler in the IPL history, Mumbai have also retained Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu along with the skipper Rohit Sharma.
The administrators of the league have introduced a rule which allows a franchise to retain five players from the team roll of the previous season. Taking advantage of this new freedom, the champions have chosen to safeguard the stars, for their own sake, in Malinga – the only bowler to have taken 100 wickets in the league, Pollard – the fearsome Caribbean all-rounder, and the Indian trio of Bhaji, Rohit and Rayadu.
The sheen of the team, however, will be somewhat subdued as there will be no Sachin Tendulkar. The face of the cricket for the last two decades, who is often regarded as the God of Cricket, retired from all forms of game in 2013. Sachin`s presence had been the charm of the team which, despite a sluggish start to the league, have finally managed to lift the trophy.
The choice of keeping Malinga will invite an unwanted situation for the team, as they will allow Johnson`s name to go in the bidder`s target list. Johnson was the catalyst which more than emphatically effected the change in the Aussie ranks to win back the urn. The left-arm seamer took an astonishing 37 wickets to capitulate the visiting English squad.
Twenty20 format may be different from the two-innings gruelling of the Tests, but Johnson was the bowler to look forward after the Ashes series - red hot in form and confidence. Time will tell, if John Wright and Co. took the right decision in putting him on the sell.