When we talk about calm and successful coaches, two names come to your mind immediately. One is Stephen Fleming of Chennai Super Kings and the other is Mahela Jayawardene of Mumbai Indians.
Mahela was appointed as coach by Mumbai Indians in 2017 and he immediately tasted success when his team won their third IPL title, beating Pune Warriors in a nailbiting finish in Hyderabad by one run. After a disappointing 2018 season, Mumbai won again under the Sri Lankan at the same venue in Hyderabad in another close game - this time against Chennai Super Kings - also by one run. The common factor in both this wins for Mahela was his counterpart was Fleming and both the times he pipped the Kiwi coach in close finishes.
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Mahela proved that those were not lucky wins by winning yet another title for Mumbai Indians in 2020 in the UAE when his side completely dominated not only the finals by beating Delhi Capitals, but also the whole IPL by losing just three games in the whole tournament. That was Mumbai Indians’ fifth title and third for Mahela in four years - which is a record in itself. Only Fleming has three titles but then, he has been the coach of CSK since the inception of IPL.
He recently won the Hundred title for his team Southern Brave and has been hailed as Pep Guardiola by Darren Gough, the England seam bowling great, for his calming influence he brings on whichever team he coaches. He has been now appointed as a consultant to Sri Lankan national team in the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World cup.
What separates Mahela from the rest of the coaches is that he never takes the limelight for his success - much like Fleming - and likes to remain the unsung hero of such a successful franchise.
- Cricket enthusiast and businessman Anis Sajan is Vice Chairman of Danube Group