“There is going to be a big tag on his head because of Sachin, but luckily he is a bowler, not a batsman, so I think Sachin will be very proud if he could bowl like Arjun,” MI head coach Jayawardene.
Ever since he registered himself for the Indian Premier League’s Player Auction for the first time, Arjun Tendulkar has been one of the talking points. It was fitting, in a way, that the auction on February 18 concluded with Arjun, the son of legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, being bagged at base price expectedly by Mumbai Indians.
Having made his debut for Mumbai during the last month’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and having been associated with Mumbai Indians – a team that’s synonymous with his father – as a net bowler for a long time, it didn’t come as a surprise that the defending champion snapped the lanky left-arm pacer who is no muck with the bat.
Mahela Jayawardene, the head coach, stressed that the decision to sign Tendulkar Jr. was purely based on skill. “We have looked at it purely on a skills-basis. There is going to be a big tag on his head because of Sachin, but luckily he is a bowler, not a batsman, so I think Sachin will be very proud if he could bowl like Arjun,” Jayawardane said at a virtual interaction after the auction.
“It is going to be a learning process for Arjun. He has just started playing for Mumbai and now with the franchise, so he will learn the ropes. He will evolve, he is still young but a very focussed young man, so you have to give him some time and hopefully not put lot of pressure on him either. Just let him evolve and work his way up. That is what we are there to help him do.”
Zaheer Khan, the Mumbai Indians’ director of cricket, has been following Arjun’s progress closely. Zaheer shares a special bond with Arjun since they are both left-arm pacers.
“I have spent a lot of time with him in the nets, working alongside him, trying to teach him a few tricks of the trade and that has been going well. Like Mahela was mentioning, he is a hard-working kid and really keen on learning, so that is an exciting part.”
Zaheer stressed that Arjun is no stranger to carrying the tag of being Tendulkar’s son. “The added pressure is always going to be there and is something he will have to live with… The likes of Shane Bond (bowling coach), Mahela, the whole system which we have around the team is definitely going to help him become a better cricketer.”
Zaheer concluded that despite his surname, Arjun will not get any undue advantages. “We are looking at things under a very simple lens. He is just a youngster coming in the side. He has to prove himself, he has to show all the coaching staff and the think-tank of the team that he is got the goods to belong there, so what he does there at the highest level, is in his hands.”