New leader takes on big chief in his hunting ground | india | Hindustan Times
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New leader takes on big chief in his hunting ground

india Updated: Apr 04, 2012 01:32 IST
Subhash Rajta
Subhash Rajta
Hindustan Times
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It was difficult to tell who looked happier -Harbhajan Singh at being anointed the captain or Sachin Tendulkar for giving up the job - during the Mumbai Indians' practice on Tuesday.

While it's easy to understand the joy of the new man in the hot seat, it's not hard to grasp the feelings of the man he's succeeded either. The burden of captaincy has always been a little too heavy for Sachin Tendulkar. He has been happily carrying the batting expectations of billion-odd fans for over two decades, but captaincy has never been his cup of tea. It always appeared a distraction that threatened to wean him away from his first love - his batting.

No distractions

Little wonder then, with the distraction gone, the maestro was just not ready to leave the nets ahead of their opener against holders Chennai Super Kings at the Chepauk stadium.

Under the hot Chennai sun, where all others perhaps had one eye on the clock and strained their ears to hear the 'pack-up' call from the coach, Tendulkar looked too engrossed with his batting to bother about the sizzling sun.

Even as others sneaked out one by one from the nets, he had another stint and left the ground looking calm and content once he was satisfied he had hit enough balls.

And that's how his new captain wants him to be. "The last few months have been difficult for him. We just want him to bat freely, without any pressure," said Harbhajan.

Firing up team
The move may prove the masterstroke for Mumbai Indians and a nightmare for their opponents, for it gives Tendulkar the freedom to focus solely on his batting, and Harbhajan a chance to replicate his Champions League success.

And the Chennai Super Kings, their opponents in the opener, are quick to take note of the danger.

"Harbhajan is a good captain, he's a fighter. It's going to be an exciting contest," said Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni.

But no matter what, the defending champions will be a tough nut to crack, especially at home where they have been almost invincible.

Add to the script the urge Dhoni must have to find his Midas touch again after suffering several reversals in international cricket, the contest gets even more intriguing.