'Excited to be back for IPL' - Ponting
Mumbai Indians captain Ricky Ponting has said he is excited to be back for the IPL after a gap of five years. His retirement from international cricket, he said, has allowed him to focus on domestic leagues such as the IPL and the ones that follow.
"I am very excited to be back in IPL," Ponting said. "The way things have worked out - with my retirement from international cricket and finishing off the domestic season for Tasmania and playing well - they have given me the opportunity to be back here.
"The reason I did not come back for IPL 2 and 3 was because I had too much international cricket on at that time. And now that I don't have international cricket, the opportunities for me to play in these domestic tournaments are really opening up."
After the IPL ends in May, Ponting will head to England for two months to play for Surrey and then to the West Indies for nearly five weeks to play in the Caribbean Premier League which begins on July 29.
Ponting said his experience of leading Australia will play a crucial role in captaining Mumbai that already has some big names, such as Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, with whom he has had "great battles" over the years.
"I have got a really good idea of what makes good teams successful," Ponting said. "And they are all the things I will be bringing to the table in Mumbai. To think that I will be playing alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, some of the guys I have had great battles over the years, and some of the young local Indian talent I have come across in the last couple of days is great.
"With Mumbai now, we have John Wright, a successful ex-India coach, and Anil Kumble, a successful Indian captain and a very very good Indian player and leader. Obviously me coming into the set-up, we have put together a really strong leadership group."
Mumbai finished third in the points table last season and lost to Chennai Super Kings in the elimination final by 38 runs. The closest they came to winning the title was in 2010 when they lost to Super Kings again in the final.
"Mumbai Indians have a pretty proud tradition in IPL of finishing up the top and being in the semi-finals," Ponting said. "We obviously haven't won the tournament yet but hopefully this year is our year."