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Muzumdar replaces Kulkarni as Mumbai captain

The prolific middle-order batsman is named the captain of the Mumbai cricket team for the this domestic season, reports Amol Karhadkar.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2006 23:04 IST

It's almost a month since Diwali. However, the celebrations have continued for Mumbai mainstay Amol Muzumdar. After being blessed with a daughter on Diwali day and celebrating his 32nd birthday last Saturday, the prolific middle-order batsman was named the captain of the Mumbai cricket team for the this domestic season on Friday.

"I am lucky to have been named as a regular captain in the same year as the birth of my child," an elated Muzumdar told the Hindustan Times after receiving the news.

"I was driving towards home when I was broken the news over the phone by Lalchand Rajput (the Mumbai Cricket Association secretary)," he said.

Despite leading the team in the Ranji Trophy in three matches (vs Haryana in 1996-7 and vs Saurashtra and Punjab in 2000-1), it took 14 long years in first-class cricket for him to be named full-time skipper.

"I was a little surprised," Muzumdar said. "But just a little. Having spent such a long time on the domestic circuit, the element of surprise has reduced now."

Muzumdar, along with opener Wasim Jaffer, has been carrying the mantle of Mumbai batting for almost a decade now. With the latter likely to be unavailable for the season due to his inclusion in the Indian team, the weight on Muzumdar's shoulder has suddenly doubled.

"It's an added responsibility," he said. "But not additional pressure. I am well-prepared to lead the side."

Mumbai selectors have also named a batsman as the captain after a long gap. And there is a school of thought which believes that batsmen make better captains than bowlers.

However, Muzumdar doesn't believe so. "It doesn't matter whether you are a batsman or a bowler if you have the wherewithal to lead a side."

How much does captaincy matter to the 32-year-old? "Not much," he said. "What's important is to give your best and contribute to the team's success. I have always given my best to the captains I have played under so far."

Where does he see the Mumbai team at the end of the season? "Despite having a lot of youngsters in the team, we reached the semis the last two seasons," he said. "Now that the youngsters have matured, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't take the step forward."

Selectors want Kulkarni to focus on bowling

Last year, the Mumbai selectors had named Ajit Agarkar the captain. However, as the medium pacer was unavailable due to international duties, his deputy Nilesh Kulkarni led the side throughout the season.

"Kulkarni did a brilliant job," said chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar. "However, we thought that it would be better for the team if he focuses on his bowling."

Vengsarkar wasn't sceptical about Muzumdar's abilities as a captain. "He has been a stand-in captain in the past," he said. "And with such vast experience, I am sure the additional responsibility won't affect his individual performance."

First Published: Nov 17, 2006 23:04 IST