Will he or won’t he? That is the big question.
Going by the events during the nets, Mumbai IPL captain Sachin Tendulkar, who is suffering from a right groin injury, may not play on Wednesday in the away match against Chennai here.
It would be a big disappointment for the crowd here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium because Tendulkar’s battle with Chennai captain MS Dhoni was eagerly awaited.
Tendulkar, who had played a large part in Dhoni’s elevation to the Indian team’s captaincy, had missed Mumbai’s opening IPL match against Bangalore on Sunday.
He spent a better part of Mumbai’s practice session on Tuesday working with physio Dr Nitin Patel in the dressing room. The only time he knocked a few deliveries was when the team was almost done with the session.
Tendulkar played a few balls gently thrown at him by former international Atul Bedade, who is now on board as the travel and logistics manager of the Mumbai team.
This effectively means that Harbhajan, who led the team in Sunday’s loss to Bangalore, will walk out for the toss yet another time.
But Dhoni wasn’t ready to take any chances.
“It will be interesting,” Dhoni said about playing against Tendulkar.
“You cannot really plan too many things against him. So, hopefully a ball keeps low and he gets out. Obviously, we have plans but let’s see how it goes. It depends a lot on how the wicket behaves and the dew factor, etc.”
Despite Tendulkar’s absence, the Mumbai camp had a reason to smile since West Indies’ all-rounder Dwayne Bravo joined the team ahead of this match.
“He brings in a lot of experience into the team, since he has already captained the West Indies team,” Shaun Pollock said after nets. “He is very good in all the departments of the game, so we are looking forward to his performance.”
Bravo is set to replace Dominic Thornley, who was hit on the right eyebrow by a Zaheer Khan delivery on Sunday. And don’t be surprised if under-19 star Saurabh Tiwary comes in place of Pinal Shah.
Earlier in the day, it was just a practise session in the middle at the stadium. MS Dhoni was batting and Muttiah Muralitharan bowling.
Dhoni stepped out and sent one flying over the stands at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here. The next ball he sent it to the long off boundary and the third went soaring over mid-wicket. The Sri Lankan got his revenge when Dhoni was caught at long on the next over.
“No, it had nothing to do with having to face Harbhajan. It was just a practise session,” Dhoni said later in the press conference.
The Chennai team, which is one of the strongest on paper, had a great start to the league, winning their first tie against Mohali in an away game. Mumbai, on the other hand, lost at home to Bangalore in their first match.
While Chennai boasts of a strong batting line-up with the likes of Matthew Hayden, Dhoni, Mike Hussey, S Badrinath and Suresh Raina, their bowling is comparatively weaker, especially with Makhaya Ntini yet to join the team and the uncertainty over Laxmipathy Balaji, who bowled a long spell during practise on Tuesday.