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IPL staff in Chennai 02 April 2012 - 10:53pm IST

I want Sachin to guide me: Bhajji

MI’s new captain all set to kick-start 2012 campaign

Harbhajan Singh addressed his first media interaction session after taking over the captaincy of the Mumbai Indians from Sachin Tendulkar. The feisty off-spinner, who led the Mumbai franchise to the 2011 CLT20 title, explained Tendulkar’s decision of stepping down from the captain’s post and seemed confident of taking over the responsibility.

“Sachin just wants to take it easy because the last eight-nine months have been difficult for him. He said he wants to take some pressure off himself and gave the responsibility to me. I’ll try my best to fulfil the responsibility and take the team forward,” Harbhajan said.

As the new captain of the team, Harbhajan said he just wants Tendulkar to bat without pressure and be a guiding force to him on the field.

“Despite quitting the captaincy, Sachin remains the biggest factor for us. Sachin can just bat freely and score tons of runs for the Mumbai Indians. In last year’s CLT20 he wasn’t playing but he was there with the team throughout and his inputs were as crucial to the team’s success as of those taking the field. This time it will be much better as he will be there on the field as well.”

Mumbai Indians start their IPL 2012 campaign by taking on the defending champions Chennai Super Kings on their home turf. While acknowledging the strength of his opponents, the Turbanator backed his team to get the better of them.

“Chennai are a very strong team, especially playing at home. But I know for sure if we put our act together, I have the team which can beat any team anywhere. We’ll put up our best performance against the best team. It’s just the first game of the tournament and it’s not how you start but how you finish that matters. I believe in finishing the race rather than starting it.”

Speaking about Mumbai Indians’ team for this season, Harbhajan said he was excited to have a formidable bowling attack at his disposal, the one with three purple cap holders – Lasith Malinga, RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha. He also lavished praise on Munaf Patel and Abu Nechim Ahmed for their contributions.

The new MI captain was particularly happy to finally have a genuine wicketkeeper-batsman in his side in Dinesh Karthik.

“Dinesh is a very promising and cricketer. We had to do without a wicketkeeper in the past seasons, but Ambati Rayudu did fantastically well for us. This time we thought we needed a specialist keeper who could also contribute with runs. And Dinesh, I believe, is India’s second best wicketkeeper-batsman after MS Dhoni.”

True to his jovial demeanour, Bhajji then quipped as he signed off, “I’d have loved to have Dhoni in the team. But we cannot have him, right? So, we went for Dinesh.”

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