When Mumbai Indians bid for Ricky Ponting in the players' auction for IPL 6, they knew that they were not wasting money. They were aware that in Ponting they would get a player who represented Australia in 168 Tests, 375 ODIs and 17 T20Is. They knew that in Ponting they would get a leader who led his side to 48 Test wins.
They knew that arrival of Ponting could solve the team's problem with the opening slot. They were also aware of the fact that even at 37 his agility in the field could make many youngsters of the side envious. They knew in Ponting they would get a versatile player who would solve a variety of riddles for them. So, splashing $400,000 - his base price - seemed a profitable deal for Mumbai from whichever way you look at it.
Despite having the biggest squad among all the IPL teams, Mumbai always found it hard to pick 11 players who could help them win matches consistently. Their record in the last five years illustrates that. In the past five seasons, Mumbai's best finish in the league has been second, in 2010. Ponting's international experience will be invaluable for the side that has also roped in John Wright, the former New Zealand batsman who also coached India between 2000 and 2005, as head coach.
Apart from Sachin Tendulkar, who led the side in most matches between 2008 and 2011, the team also tried Shaun Pollock and Harbhajan Singh as captains. While all three led the team successfully in league matches, they couldn't give it a final push in knock-out matches. Having led Australia successfully in 2003 and 2007's 50-over World Cups, Ponting will possibly provide that link which has been missing in the previous seasons.
In the last five seasons, Mumbai have tried various opening combinations but they still could not come up with a pair to them a flying start consistently. Ponting could either open the batting with team's marquee player, Tendulkar, or come at his more accustomed No. 3 spot if the management decides to try yet another opening pair.
Ponting has also been in excellent form in Australian domestic cricket and was named Sheffield Shield player of the year for his effort of 875 runs in just 14 innings at 87.50. He has been a snip for the team, one has to say.
Do you reckon Ricky Ponting can influence Mumbai's fortunes in IPL 6?