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Sachin excited about leading IPL team

The master batsman was also happy that he got feisty tweaker Harbhajan Singh in his side and said the 'turbanator' would be an asset to the team.

cricket Updated: Apr 16, 2008 01:01 IST

Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday said he was looking forward to the challenge of leading Mumbai Indians in the high-profile Indian Premier League starting on April 18.

"It is going to be a challenge. I was not expecting it (to captain the Mumbai side). Mukesh Ambani spoke to me and he wanted me to lead the side. I have accepted it and I am looking forward to it," he said.

Tendulkar did not believe his side is one of the weakest in the eight-team league and said he was happy with the composition of the team.

"I am happy with the team. It has nice blend of seniors and juniors, it is a terrific team. Who says we have a weak side, let the tournament start and everybody will know," he told NDTV.

The master batsman was also happy that he got feisty tweaker Harbhajan Singh in his side and said the 'turbanator' would be an asset to the team.

"He is a world class player, I am happy that I have got him. Anybody who has played for more than 10 years for his country should be a terrific player."

When asked about the prospect of facing India team-mates like Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and M S Dhoni in the IPL, Tendulkar said it would be a new but exciting experience.

"It will be a strange experience, playing against somebody who are next to me in the dressing room. It is a club system, it will be a new experience. It will be exciting for players as well as spectators."

Tendulkar was also excited about opening the innings with explosive Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya besides once again facing retired champion spinner Shane Warne.

"Sanath is a terrific batsman. I have enjoyed his batting and not only that, he is also a handy slow bowler. I am excited to go out and bat with him.

"It will be a good challenge with (Shane) Warne. He is going to come back hard and we will be prepared," Tendulkar said when reminded of his past on-field duels with the Australian.

Tendulkar felt the IPL would most benefit the youngsters who will rub shoulders with the biggest names in the game.
"My team has promising youngsters like Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Ajinkya Rahane and Ankeet Chavan. Think of them playing against Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, Shaun Pollock, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. It is a great opportunity for them to show the world their potential."

Tendulkar said the IPL would be a successful venture and spectators would flock to the stadiums to watch the Twenty20 matches. "It has all the big names in the world of cricket, so it has to succeed. People will come, they want to watch exciting cricket."

The master batsman, who is turning 35 on April 24, is, however, racing against time to be fit before the start of the tournament.

"I am not fully recovered and have not started practice. I have just started doing a few throw-downs and some basic things. A final assessment on my fitness level will be done soon," he added.