Sachin Tendulkar may have played a solitary Twenty20 International, but his Indian Premier League (IPL) Mumbai team owners Reliance Retail are confident he would be a roaring success even if he is pushing 35.
Some experts wonder if Tendulkar would be as big a success in the hit-and-run, energy sapping T20, the shortest version of the game, as he has been in Test and one-day international cricket.
A top official of the Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Retail said the company has built the Mumbai team around Tendulkar and expressed confidence that the star bat has quite a few playing years left.
"I would not like to comment on his age as he is so deeply involved with the formation Mumbai T20 team and that's a good sign," R. Balachandran, president and chief marketing officer Reliance Retail, told IANS.
Balachandran says he got to know more about Tendulkar's sharp brains while interacting with him on the composition, strategy of the team and buying of players at the historic auction Feb 20.
The diminutive maestro, who will turn 35 a week into the 45-day IPL tournament beginning April 18, has amassed 11,782 runs in 146 Tests and 16,153 in 415 one-day internationals.
But in the only Twenty20 International he managed 10 runs. He has played five other Twenty20 matches and scored 198 at 39.60, including a highest of 69. He opted out of last year's Twenty20 World Championship that India won in September.
Balachandran said the company would not be looking to Tendulkar to just contribute with the bat or on-field strategy, but also for innumerable other inputs off the field.
After all, Reliance has spent a total of $117 million, including $111.9 million on buying the team for the 10 years and $4.97 on the purchase of eight players at the historic auction. After the auction the company spent more money on signing Indian players.
Balachandran disclosed that Tendulkar gave the company a list of players that were targeted at the auction.
"We have been in constant touch with him. He gave a lot of inputs for buying the players. The team that we have today has Tendulkar's stamp," said Balachandran, who was authorised to deal with IPL on behalf of his company.
Balachandran said Tendulkar continues to be hugely popular among the masses and it would be the same during the IPL tournament.
"Tendulkar has gone beyond the realm of being a legend. He is a talisman, an icon. He and Mumbai cricket are inseparable and the Mumbaikars love him."