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Shirin Sadikot in Bengaluru 09 April 2012 - 10:04am IST

MI’s three shades of purple

With three purple cap winners, Mumbai Indians have an envious bowling attack

Blue is the colour of the Mumbai Indians. But a look at their bowling attack and you’ll see a lot of purple as well. In RP Singh, Pragyan Ojha and Lasith Malinga, MI have three IPL purple cap winners. For a team to have the highest wicket-takers of the last three seasons in a tournament that’s only into its fifth edition is an incredible blessing.

Besides their numbers, the three men add immense value to the team with their varied styles of bowling. While left-arm pacer RP banks on swing and lateral movement, Malinga hunts down his victims by yorking them at high pace. In Ojha, the accurate left-arm spinner, skipper Harbhajan Singh has an able spin partner and an anchor.

The three purple cap winners have not yet played together for MI in IPL 2012. But given that two of them are Indians, the possibility of them featuring in the same match is not distant. iplt20.com caught up with the trio, who spoke about each other and their own bowling plans.

RP and Ojha have shared each other’s success in their three seasons together with the Deccan Chargers. Ojha played the role of Robin as RP the Batman demolished their opponents to lead the unfancied Chargers to IPL glory in 2009 with 23 wickets. The next year, the spinner stepped up to top the wicket-taking charts with 21 scalps as the pacer played the supporting role. 

“RP is a skill bowler. His strength is his swing and accuracy,” Ojha said of his mate. “I have played a lot with him and can say that he is one of those bowlers who put a lot of thought behind their bowling. RP is always keen on setting up the batsman."

RP, in return, said he admired Ojha’s temperament and the ability to perform in crunch situations. “Pragyan is a superb bowler. He plays to his strengths – line and length – and always delivers when the stakes are high.” Now, as the two pair up for MI, their understanding of each other’s game will bode well for their new team.

Along with the two Indian left-armers, MI have the most deadly Twenty20 weapon in their armoury in Malinga. The sling-arm fast bowler was the leading wicket-taker in IPL 2011 with 28 scalps. He was also a crucial factor in MI making it to the play-offs. 

So what is it like to share the attack with a wicket-taking machine like Malinga?

“Malinga is match-winner. He can win the match for us from any situation,” RP said of his new bowling colleague. 

Ojha mirrored his views and added, "Lasith Malinga is just the best man when it comes to bowling in the death overs. His inswinging toe-breaking yorkers with the kind of pace with which he bowls them are simply awesome.”

After speaking to Malinga, it was evident that the admiration was pretty mutual. “RP and Ojha are very experienced and have taken a lot of wickets in the IPL. They know their strengths and bowl accordingly,” said the quietly-spoken Sri Lankan.

Malinga’s pace and yorkers combined with RP’s swing and skill would make a lethal pace duo. In fact, the former said, he has already started working out strategies to form a successful fast bowling partnership with RP. “We have different abilities; RP has good swing and slower ball. The main thing is to know how to handle situations. We discuss matter in between training sessions.”

Being a part of such threatening bowling attack can lead to high levels of peer pressure. But Ojha insists, his gameplan will not change. "I am just trying to keep things very simple. I’m not thinking of too many things and will just bowl what I know and what I am confident of. I will try and stick to a basic plan and everything will follow," the left-arm spinner from Hyderabad said.

With all the attention on the purple cap winners, RP didn’t forget the man who will lead the pack. Harbhajan Singh, along with captaining the side, is looking to regain his old touch with the ball.

"Having 3 Purple Cap winners in the squad speaks about the might of Mumbai Indians,” RP said. "But we must not forget that our captain Harbhajan Singh is a world-class act. His experience will be handy and also the deciding factor of how things shape up with our bowling unit.” 

RP, perhaps, summed it up best. With the purple cap trio and Harbhajan, MI have the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Munaf Patel and young Abu Nechim Ahmed. As captain in their ranks, Harbhajan will bear the onus of selecting the best combination from the plethora of talent at his disposal. How optimally he uses these rich bowling resources will decide the fate of MI’s bowling unit.

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