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If not Sachin, then who?

With Sachin almost certain to miss Mumbai team's opening IPL match with their B'lore counterparts due to injury, the big question is who would lead the team on Sun, reports Amol Karhadkar.
Hindustan Times | By Amol Karhadkar, Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 17, 2008 12:47 AM IST

The Mumbai team - owned by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited - are set to open their Indian Premier League campaign against the Rahul Dravid-led Bangalore outfit at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

However, as the squad met Ambani at his residence in what was the first official team dinner with the chairman on Wednesday night, a big question loomed large: With skipper Sachin Tendulkar almost certain to miss the opening game due to injury, who would lead the team on Sunday?

Apart from Tendulkar, Mumbai have three more former international captains in Sanath Jayasuriya, Shaun Pollock and Ashwell Prince. So, when the question was put to Pollock and Jayasuriya during a promotional event, Pollock smiled and said, "I bet it will be Sanath."

Jayasuriya shot back, "It will be Shaun." On a more serious note, Pollock preferred a local player to lead the team in Tendulkar's absence.

"The job of leading the team in a T20 game is very stressful," said Pollock. "If he (Tendulkar) misses out on the opening matches, I guess it would be better if a local guy takes over as captain in the initial stages since he would know all the players. If the situation arises, probably one of us can take over in the later stages."

Apart from the overseas players, Mumbai have only four players who have represented India - Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Robin Uthappa and Ashish Nehra.

Nehra is on a comeback trail following a spate of injuries, Uthappa is too young to lead a side while Harbhajan has never led his state side Punjab. In this situation, the baton of captaincy will be passed to either Pollock or Jayasuriya.

But Uthappa was game if the opportunity came his way. "It would be an honour," said Uthappa, sporting a new and weird haircut that he attributed to a "jungle ride". "To lead a team which has such great players would indeed be an honour."

Pollock said, "We are settling in on a lot of issues and by Sunday, everything would be in order."

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