IPL Khabri: Inside the Mumbai Indians Locker Room before the RCB Clash


IPL Khabri: Inside the Mumbai Indians Locker Room before the RCB Clash

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré

Mumbai Indians aka the Kings of the Comeback are back in their elements yet again. In typical MI fashion, the most successful franchise in the IPL, has lost miserably in their first three games of this season. If history is any indicator, Rohit Sharma and his boys  are going to lose a bunch more. Which will of course be followed by a dramatic comeback – Mumbai Indians will cruise into the playoffs before possibly winning the whole damn thing.

IPL Khabri had the privilege of visiting the team’s dressing room on a casual Tuesday morning ahead of their clash with RCB. The locker room itself is swankier than most other franchises and comes complete with an industrial-size JIO-powered flat screen playing Anant Ambani’s motivational speech on loop.

Skipper Rohit Sharma, who has just finished devouring a dhokla-flavoured nutribar, says he isn’t worried at all about how they’ve started. “Arré! Unless we lose three to four matches in the start, woh IPL wali feel hi nahi aati, you know,” he adds, before practising his post-match ceremony speech.

It’s hard to miss Kieron Pollard at another end of the locker room, engrossed in his weight-training session. After putting down eight dumbbells and coach Mahela Jayawardene, he lets us in on the team strategy: The focus is more on travel and leisure during the first half of the IPL. Isn’t that what the tournament is about cricketainment – more entertainment, less cricket? “Winning isn’t even on our mind until at least the seventh game. This is a home game so I’ll make do with a small on-field scuffle or pander to camera after taking an effortlessly brilliant catch. But to be honest, I’m just looking forward to the 22nd when we land in Jaipur. Going to devour that Laal Maas!”

The Pandya brothers, Hardik and Krunal, take this opportunity to express their gratitude to their team’s owners. “We know that sibling harmony isn’t an Ambani strong point. Yet they decided to retain both of us. #Blessed,” the duo says, fighting back tears. When we ask them about their game plan against RCB tonight, the brothers, unsurprisingly seem nonplussed. “Ave reva do ne! We have a simple rule here in MI. April mein bench khilao, May mein duniya hilao.”

Ishan Kishan, Mustafizur Rahman, and Mayank Markande, the three MI rookies, are seen sulking in a corner about their slim chances of getting a permanent spot in the team despite strong performances. “This is Mumbai Indians damn it! Even their bench strength is stronger than most World XIs. We are constantly afraid we’ll be replaced by some powerhouse from the Caribbean that even the West Indian team might not have discovered yet,” says Markande, who was selected in the MI squad despite not having played a single Ranji game.

About the upcoming game against RCB, Rahman says it should be an evenly matched competition. “Both MI and RCB bowlers just can’t seem to defend a total, no matter how well our batsmen play.”

When we circle back to Sharma, he is all smiles when reminded that he’d be facing his teammate and India captain, Virat Kohli today. “Arré, it’ll be fun catching up with Cheeku. We do this really funny thing where he constantly brings up my inconsistent form and I bring up his IPL trophy total. Good times!”