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Mahela Jayawardene and Zaheer Khan elevated to global roles with Mumbai Indians

Mahela Jayawardene has stepped down as head coach of the Mumbai Indians to take on a broader role as the franchise’s global performance head. In his new role, Jayawardene will oversee the coaching and scouting of all three teams the franchise owners now have: Mumbai Indians in the IPL, MI Emirates in the ILT20 and MI Cape Town in the SA20. Zaheer Khan, previously the director of cricket operations, is now the global head of cricket development for the three teams.

In a statement, the group said team management recognized the need for a central team at the helm of business due to the company’s expansion to “ensure consistency […] on ethos, values ​​and learning, which have made MI one of the most beloved cricket brands in the world”.

Elaborating on the roles and responsibilities of the two men who will be at the top of the backroom staff, the statement said Jayawardene would be involved in “overall strategic planning, the creation of an integrated global powerful ecosystem, as well as responsibility for the coaching – and support structures of each team, working closely with the team head coaches to ensure synergies, a consistent cricket brand and implementation of MI best practices.”

ESPNcricinfo has learned that the franchise will soon unveil the new head coach for the IPL team, a job Jayawardene has performed since the 2017 edition of the IPL, overseeing three title wins.

Jayawardene called the raise “an absolute honour” and said he looked forward “to this new responsibility to build a highly cohesive global cricket brand”.

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As for Zaheer, he would be “responsible for player development, building on MI’s robust program around talent identification and nurturing and applying the same across geographies, which has been core to MI’s philosophy and success”.

“MI has been my home as a player and as a member of the coaching team, and as we embark on a new journey, I look forward to working closely with all stakeholders in the global network to discover new potential that comes with the family can add.” Zaheer said.

The streamlining of the top roles in the coaching staff came after the owners of Mumbai Indians bought the two new teams.

“I am delighted to have Mahela and Zak on our global core team. Both have been an integral part of the MI family and embody the spirit of the cricket that MI stands for,” Akash Ambani, President of Reliance Jio Infocomm, Owners of Mumbai Indians, said. “I am confident they would be able to ensure the same flows through all our teams worldwide and make a difference in cricket ecosystems around the world.”

The ILT20 and SA20 will both have their first seasons in January-February next year. The owners felt that the changed circumstances required one person to be in charge of the coaching arm globally, a role best suited to Jayawardene due to his extensive experience as an international player and captain, as well as a coach in franchise T20 cricket.

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In the IPL, Jayawardene was the second most successful coach after Stephen Fleming, who has played with Chennai Super Kings since 2009, winning four IPL trophies with them. The Jayawardene-Rohit Sharma [Mumbai Indians captain] Combine has made three IPL playoffs in six seasons and remarkably won the title each time. They are the only team to have five IPL titles and the only team other than Super Kings to successfully defend the title in 2020.

Jayawardene and Zaheer have worked closely since the latter joined the Mumbai Indians support staff in 2018. In 91 games since then, the Mumbai Indians’ win-loss ratio of 1,289 was the best of the original eight IPL teams. However, Mumbai has struggled for form and consistency for the past two seasons, finishing last in the ten-team event in 2022, winning just four of their 14 matches.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo

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