Indian Premier League May 12, 2008

Tendulkar set to return against Chennai

He's back: Sachin Tendulkar returns to the Mumbai side after missing the first seven games because of injury © Getty Images

Sachin Tendulkar has said he is fit and will lead the Mumbai Indians in their next game, against the Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday. The news will be a shot in the arm for Mumbai, who played the first half of the IPL without Tendulkar, forced to sit out with a groin injury.

The rehabilitation process has been successful, Tendulkar announced today; there was no "discomfort" and he will open Mumbai's innings with Sanath Jayasuriya.

"I will be playing on May 14. It's looking very good and I'm feeling very positive," Tendulkar said after a two-hour batting session at the Wankhede Stadium. He said it was really "tough" for him to sit out but acknowledged the support of the fitness staff who had "really worked hard, especially the physio and the masseur".

Tendulkar first picked up the injury during the CB Series in Australia and it got worse after the first Test against South Africa in Chennai, forcing him to miss the final two matches of the series. He was unable to recover for the start of the IPL, missing Mumbai's first seven games.

Though Mumbai lost their first four games, Tendulkar was careful not to return before he was completely fit. "It was disappointing to miss the two Tests against South African and then seven IPL games. But during the first half of the rehabilitation I had to completely rest and followed it by strengthening of the muscles and working out a bit. With the help of the fitness staff all the things went fine and I'm feeling strong now and there is no discomfort."

In his absence Harbhajan Singh led Mumbai for the first three games and after he was banned for an on-field row with Sreesanth, Shaun Pollock came in as the stand-in captain. Asked if it would be difficult for the side to have another new captain especially when Pollock was proving to be successful, Tendulkar said the players had supported each other through it all and they understood each other well.

"I will be the captain. Shaun was a makeshift captain and he did a terrific job and the other senior players have also contributed well. It's not about who the captain is but it's about helping each other and that's what Mumbai Indians have been doing and will continue to do."

Despite his minimal exposure to the Twenty20 format - he has played only five games so far - Tendulkar was looking ahead to the challenge ahead. "I always try hard and I've always given my best." Mumbai are currently placed sixth in the points table, just above the Deccan Chargers and the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo