It has been five weeks since Sachin Tendulkar last played a competitive match. Though his absence did not cost India much when he missed two Tests against South Africa last month, it has certainly made a difference to the Mumbai team.
The grapevine was abuzz with the Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) being unhappy with Tendulkar’s absence and was even trying to pressurise him into making an early return. As a result, the legend, who received the Padma Vibhushan award from President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi on Monday, decided to clear the air on Monday.
“All through the time, no one from the Reliance, including Mukesh and Tina Ambani (team owners), has ever asked me to rush back into the action without recovering properly,” Tendulkar said on Tuesday after practicing with his team at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex. “I have not been under any pressure. They all have told me concentrate on my recovery and have been supportive.”
Tendulkar, who hit some lusty blows during his brief net stint, said that he still wasn’t feeling 100 per cent. “I played a practice game (on Friday) and felt a bit of discomfort afterwards,” Tendulkar, who is recovering from a right groin injury, said. “I want to play in the IPL as soon as possible, but don’t know whether I will play tomorrow or not.”
Does that mean Tendulkar will lead the Mumbai team for Wednesday’s crucial game against leaders Jaipur?
Stand-in skipper Shaun Pollock made it clear it’s not going to be the case, unless there is a miracle.
“I don’t think Sachin will play tomorrow unless he wakes up in the morning feeling fantastic,” Pollock said. “It makes sense since after tomorrow’s game, we have got a week off. He should be 100 per cent by the time the 14th comes along.
As a result, the Navi Mumbaikars will be deprived of a face-off between Tendulkar and Shane Warne, the Jaipur captain and coach.
“Any team without Sachin Tendulkar is a weak team,” Warne said. “Even though he is my best player in the world and a very good mate I am extremely glad that he will be not playing.
“As a bowler it’s very challenging. To bowl him out one needs a variety of deliveries and he gets the best out of the bowler. His presence makes a team look very dangerous.”