Mumbai Indians environment will help Arjun Tendulkar, says Zaheer Khan

Arjun Tendulkar, the son of the Indian cricket great, joined the Indian Premier League (IPL) bandwagon after being picked by Mumbai Indians for ₹20 lakh – his base price – at the 2021 auction on Thursday.

Arjun Tendulkar has been signed by Mumbai Indians.   -  Special Arrangement

Arjun Tendulkar, the son of the Indian cricket great, joined the Indian Premier League (IPL) bandwagon after being picked by Mumbai Indians for ₹20 lakh – his base price – at the 2021 auction on Thursday.

The 21-year-old is a left-arm fast bowler who recently made his debut for Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Twenty20 tournament where he scalped a couple of wickets.

At the auction in Chennai, Arjun was the last player to go under the hammer. Even though this will be his official entry as a player into the IPL, he has had stints with Mumbai Indians as a net bowler and even travelled with the team to the United Arab Emirates for the 2020 season as one.

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Zaheer Khan, the former India pacer and Mumbai Indians director of cricket operations, has seen the youngster since his formative years and believes Arjun will have to prove himself.

“I have spent a lot of time in the nets, trying to teach him a few tricks of the trade. He is a hard-working kid. He is keen on learning. That is an exciting part. The added pressure of being Sachin Tendulkar’s son will always be on him. It is something he needs to live with. The environment of the team will help him,” Zaheer said after the auction.

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“It will help him become a good cricketer. How many times a youngster gets picked in the auction and everyone is talking about him. He has to prove himself and he has to show everyone he has the goods,” the former India international added.

Familiar with the setup, Arjun has plenty to prove in the franchise, which his father also represented and is a mentor for. The team’s owner, Akash Ambani, too was excited with his choice. “Arjun has a beautiful skill-set, he is a left-arm fast bowler and can bat left-arm, there are not many of those in world cricket. But it is very important that his process and progression happens as any other young cricketer’s progressions happen and fortunately at MI, we help individuals reach their potential. It is all on their hard work, but we believe we have the environment to do that, and hopefully, we can see Arjun reach his potential in the coming years, like many other youngsters without taking names have,” Ambani said.

Having played with Tendulkar, MI head coach Mahela Jayawardene felt it was important to give him time to evolve. “We looked at it purely on a skill basis and there is going to be a big tag on his head because of Sachin, but luckily he is a bowler and not a batsman. So, Sachin would be very proud if he could bowl like Arjun,” Jayawardene said.

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“It is going to be a learning process. He just started playing for Mumbai and for the franchise, so he will learn the ropes. He will evolve – he is still young, but a very focused young man. You have to give him time and not put pressure on him. Just let him evolve and work his way up,” the Sri Lankan said.

Even though he missed out on making Mumbai’s Vijay Hazare Trophy squad a week before the IPL 2021 auction, Arjun smashed an unbeaten 31-ball 77 in the 73rd Police Invitation Shield Cricket tournament. The all-rounder also scalped three wickets as MIG Cricket Club won the game by a big margin of 194 runs.