If Sachin’s here, can Mumbai be far behind?
The Wankhede Stadium, where Sachin Tendulkar has evolved from a wonder boy to a living legend, will soon undergo a revamp for the 2011 World Cup. But before the stadium shuts down temporarily, it will see its favourite son playing the shortest and the newest format of the game when hosts Mumbai take on Chennai on Wednesday.
Tendulkar missed the first half of the tournament as he was recovering from a right groin injury. And as the master walks out for the toss along with his Chennai counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the galaxy of cricketing sensations participating in the IPL will also be complete.
Talking about the stage of the tournament, Chennai - with six wins from nine matches so far - need another victory to line themselves up for a semi-final berth. Mumbai, on the other hand, need to win at least four of their remaining seven matches to have any hopes of making it to the last four. And skipper Tendulkar was confident about extending their three-match winning streak on Wednesday.
"All the senior players have contributed together," Tendulkar told a pre-match media conference on Tuesday evening. "So we just hope to carry the momentum with us."
Apart from Tendulkar and Dhoni trying to outscore and outsmart each other on the field, the tie will also see arguably one of the most devastating opening pair when Tendulkar walks out with Sanath Jayasuriya. But how the duo tackles the guile of Muttiah Muralitharan, if the off-spinner in introduced early, could be a learning experience for the youngsters in both teams.
However, Tendulkar did not rate Dhoni as the only threat to Mumbai's bowling. "Dhoni is not the only worry. Badrinath has also scored consistently. Even (Albie) Morkel can hit big one lower down the order," Tendulkar said. And what about Muralitharan? "No doubt he is a great bowler, but this is such a format where any bowler can go for runs on a given day," said Tendulkar.
With Tendulkar's inclusion, the Mumbai team, reeling in the bottom half of the table, suddenly looks a formidable unit. And despite T20 being considered as a young man's game, ironically Tendulkar is likely to replace Saurabh Tiwary - the India under-19 sensation - in the XI.