Tendulkar’s presence boosts Mumbai Indians

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READYING FOR BATTLE: Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar is expected to make his IPL debut in the game against Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday.
READYING FOR BATTLE: Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar is expected to make his IPL debut in the game against Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday.

Nandakumar Marar

Chennai Super Kings to stick to its openers Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan and Stephen Fleming

Mumbai: Mumbai Indians will value Sachin Tendulkar’s presence more than his contribution with the bat or ball in Wednesday’s tie against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. The team’s third captain in eight games, his match fitness is a grey area. Tweny20 can be cruel on seniors depending on reputation to assert themselves, instead of winning a place on the basis of their utility to the team.

It is unfair to expect Tendulkar the batsman to hit form after weeks of rest and rehab, nor will the Chennai Super Kings bowlers allow him the breathing space to get into groove in Wednesday’s tie at the Wankhede Stadium.

The batting icon can be useful in a holding role at the crease, allowing the strokeplayers from opener Sanath Jayasuriya to number six Abhishek Nayar to push up the scoring rate.

Change in captain

Tendulkar, the skipper, making an entry into the IPL at the halfway stage is a different issue. T20 captaincy requires instinctive decision-making by a leader tuned into the ebb and flow of the match.

Shaun Pollock slipped into that role smoothly and is best placed to carry the momentum forward, building on the experience of last four matches, winning three of them. The South African’s all-round ability helped him assume leadership in the bowling department and backed it up with valuable knocks lower down the order.

The players knew he was in control and responded to his way of getting things done. Now after a working relationship has been established, Mumbai Indians players are being asked to follow a new leader.

Tendulkar is getting used to the dynamics of T20 cricket from the dugout, watching the team come through a trial by fire under Pollock, winning home ties against Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals to develop into a side worthy of respect. Chennai Super Kings coach Kepler Wessels, asked about the prospect of facing Tendulkar in an away game, said: “Our team is looking forward to the game. It is a privilege playing against one of the game’s greats.”

Stressing on the value of captaincy in T20, the coach explained: “Captaincy plays a very important part in Twenty20 cricket. Sachin is a very experienced player and should be able to handle the situation.”

Chennai does not have any plans of changing the batting order at the top. “Stephen Fleming and S. Vidyut are playing well, Suresh Raina is getting runs at number three,” he said. The teams (from):

Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Shaun Pollock, Robin Uthappa, Yogesh Takawale, Domnic Thornley, Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Rohan Raje, Ashish Nehra, Dwayne Bravo, Saurabh Tiwary, Ajinkya Rahane.

Chennai Super Kings: M.S. Dhoni (capt.), Stephen Fleming, S. Vidyut, Suresh Raina, S. Badrinath, Albie Morkel, Joginder Sharma, L. Balaji, M. Muralitharan, M Ntini, P Amarnath, S. Anirudh, Chamara Kapugedera, Parthiv Patel.

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