Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: Mumbai Indians (MI) became the most successful Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise on Tuesday when they won their fifth title in the 13-year history of the T20 league, beating Delhi Capitals (DC) in Dubai. It was their first back-to-back title. Former India captain Rahul Dravid on Friday said, the secret of MI string of successes in the IPL is a strong core of high quality players that they have retained and have mixed it with young and talented players.

"What MI has done over the last four-five years is that they have maintained a really strong core of high quality players and mix them up by identifying some really good talented players," Dravid said at the virtual launch of a book.

"They have been able to spot Jasprit Bumrah or Hardik Pandya at a young age. Then there is Rahul Chahar, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav. The ability to maintain a core of very experienced senior players -- world class T20 players -- and balance them out with young exciting Indian talents has been the key. They have been able to do that exceptionally well. They have got a good scouting structure in place; a lot of teams are doing it well," said the former Rajasthan Royals captain.

Dravid, presently Director of Cricket at the Bangalore-based National Cricket Academy of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said that cricketers are getting more opportunities to showcase their talent through the IPL.

"In the past, when young players were looking for opportunities, they only got that from state associations - and could only play for Ranji Trophy for their state. Now in IPL, you can be from Karnataka and can play for Mumbai," he said.

"A good example is if you are in a state association like Haryana, where they have some good spinners -- Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jayant Yadav. Someone like Rahul Tewatia probably doesn't even get a chance in the T20 team. In the past that would have limited him from showing his talent. Today that does not stop him from playing in Royals."

Rahul Dravid Throws Weight Behind Expansion Of IPL

As unconfirmed talks are going around about adding a ninth team to the Indian Premier League (IPL), former Rajasthan Royals (RR) captain Dravid said that the lucrative T20 league was ready for expansion.

Dravid was speaking at the virtual launch of a book, A New Innings, by RR lead owner Manoj Badale and cricketer-turned-broadcaster Simon Hughes.

"From a cricketing talent perspective, we are ready for an expansion. There are some incredible young talents in India that are waiting for the opportunity at the big stage. We have seen it this year. We will see a lot of new faces coming up if they get an opportunity," Dravid, currently Director of Cricket at the Bangalore-based National Cricket Academy of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Dravid seemed mighty impressed by the talent on display at the just-concluded IPL in the United Arab Emirates, where Mumbai Indians won their fifth title.

"There are some real talents who are not getting opportunities to play in the XI. We have seen some of the young Indian talents in this IPL. Being involved with the under-19 team, it has been fantastic to see so many of those young boys who have come on and established themselves not only for their state teams but also in the IPL," Dravid said.

According to the original plans of the IPL, the tournament, which was launched in 2008, was supposed to expand to 10 teams after a few editions. But only once, in 2011, did the numbers of franchise increase from eight to 10. After that year, in 2012 and 2013, nine teams competed and since 2014 again eight teams have been competing.

Badale, who has been associated with IPL and RR since 2008, felt that as early as the 2021 edition an additional team was a possibility.

"The concept of the IPL has always envisaged an expansion from eight to at least 10 teams. It's not a new topic. We have had 10 teams in the past and now the IPL is getting bigger. The extension of franchises is inevitable and it is a good thing," he said.

Badale rued the book launch came after RR finished at the bottom of the heap - their worst performance ever. RR won the maiden edition of IPL in 2008.

(Nitesh Kumar Sahoo With IANS Inputs)