Ricky Ponting to lead Mumbai Indians
Mumbai Indians have appointed former Australia captain Ricky Ponting as their captain for the sixth edition of IPL, which starts from April 3.
Ponting, who retired from international cricket at the end of 2012, was bought at the base price of $400,000 during the player auction earlier this month. Despite the buzz circulating around Sachin Tendulkar to be re-appointed as the captain ahead of the auction, the new Mumbai think-tank of mentor Anil Kumble and coach John Wright have zeroed-in on Ponting to lead the side.
Mumbai explained the change of heart through a media statement. "Ricky has a lot of experience to lead a competitive and a high-profile side like Mumbai Indians in the IPL," Kumble said. "Sachin readily agreed to my suggestion that Mumbai Indians is best served when he leads the batting unburdened by the rigours of captaincy. It was our idea (Sachin and mine) to bring in Ricky as the captain of the Mumbai Indians."
However, Mumbai's tactics of creating a buzz around Tendulkar to be re-instated as the captain were termed as an "eyewash" ahead of the auction. "Mumbai Indians were not the only team who were interested in Ponting at the auction. So just to take the attention away from the former Australia captain, it seems they would have adopted the strategy of floating Tendulkar's name as the captain [on the eve of the auction]," an official from another franchise said.
Ponting, however, was looking forward to the new responsibility. "It's a huge honour and I thank Mrs [Nita] Ambani and the Mumbai Indians management for the faith they have reposed in my abilities. Mumbai Indians has the potent combination of Indian and international cricketers and I look forward to leading the team to play to its full potential," said Ponting, who made a brief appearance for Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural IPL edition in 2008.
The owners of the Mumbai franchise, IndiaWin Sports Pvt Ltd - a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd - were delighted to have Tendulkar and Ponting as a potential opening partnership. "On behalf of the Mumbai Indians family, I welcome Ricky Ponting to the team as the leader of the side," said Nita Ambani. "Today we have world's two biggest cricketing greats in Sachin and Ricky, and I am sure the duo will be an inspiration for the youngsters in the team. Sachin will always be an integral and important part of Mumbai Indians' leadership. Ricky will bring in fresh perspective in the team leadership and will have the support of the best cricketing minds like Sachin, Anil and John Wright."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo