A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPOR: Ricky Ponting to captain Mumbai Indians during IPL

Ambani hinted that Tendulkar and Ponting may become the franchises’ new openers

The Mumbai Indians have announced that former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting will captain the franchise during the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which gets underway on April 3.

Ponting, who announced his retirement from international cricket at the end of last year, was bought by the Indians for his base price of $400,000 at this year’s player auction in February.

The Indians’ decision to make Ponting captain has shocked many as there was growing speculation that Sachin Tendulkar would take control of the reigns.

However, Mumbai mentor Anil Kumble and coach John Wright both believed that Ponting would be a better choice since he has a lot of experience in the leadership department.

“Ricky has a lot of experience to lead a competitive and a high-profile side like Mumbai Indians in the IPL,” Kumble said. “Sachin readily agreed to my suggestion that Mumbai Indians is best served when he leads the batting unburdened by the rigours of captaincy. It was our idea (Sachin and mine) to bring in Ricky as the captain of the Mumbai Indians.”

However, an official from another franchise, who were also interested in acquiring Ponting’s services, lashed out at Mumbai, stating that they had purposely taken the attention off Ponting by saying that Tendulkar would regain control of the captaincy.

“Mumbai Indians were not the only team who were interested in Ponting at the auction,” the official said. “So just to take the attention away from the former Australia captain, it seems they would have adopted the strategy of floating Tendulkar’s name as the captain [on the eve of the auction].”

But, Ponting has not let the criticisms about Mumbai affect his enthusiasm towards taking charge of one of the leading franchises in the IPL.

“It’s a huge honour and I thank Mrs [Nita] Ambani and the Mumbai Indians management for the faith they have reposed in my abilities,” Ponting said. “Mumbai Indians has the potent combination of Indian and international cricketers and I look forward to leading the team to play to its full potential.”

The Mumbai Indians is not the first team Ponting has represented in the IPL, as he spent a short period of time with the Kolkata Knight Riders during the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2008.

Mumbai owner Nita Ambani was pleased to have Ponting aboard and even hinted that he and Tendulkar could form a potential opening partnership.

“On behalf of the Mumbai Indians family, I welcome Ricky Ponting to the team as the leader of the side,” Ambani said. “Today we have world’s two biggest cricketing greats in Sachin and Ricky, and I am sure the duo will be an inspiration for the youngsters in the team. Sachin will always be an integral and important part of Mumbai Indians’ leadership. Ricky will bring in fresh perspective in the team leadership and will have the support of the best cricketing minds like Sachin, Anil and John Wright.”

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