Sachin Tendulkar won't captain Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League this season. The team management has handed over the reign to Harbhajan Singh, who had successfully led the team to Champions League Twenty20 triumph last year. Indian middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma has been named Harbhajan's deputy.
Tendulkar's decision to quit captaincy two days before the start of the IPL is a surprise and the team management has not given any reason for it.
"Sachin bhai spoke to me a few days back and told me about his decision. It's a great honour for me to lead Mumbai Indians in such a big tournament," said Harbhajan. "I would like to thank Nita (Ambani) bhabi and Sachin paaji for giving me this responsibility and showing faith in me. It was a difficult moment when Sachin expressed his desire to quit captaincy. But we all believe that he is the best person to take the final call on such matters."
The new captain said he would do his best to take Mumbai Indians to new heights. "We have had a fantastic campaign in the Champions League last year and naturally expectations will be higher this time. We have a very good side and my responsibility will be bigger now. I have always received great support from my teammates and hope to get it during the IPL," Harbhajan said on Monday.
It was a difficult decision for Tendulkar, who has led the team for four years.
"The Mumbai Indians is like a family to me. At this point in time, I feel, I need a break from the responsibility of captaincy. After due consideration, I discussed my intention to hand over the charge to Harbhajan," Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar also added that he took the decision after consulting owners Nita and Mukesh Ambani.
"I was touched by the graciousness and wholehearted support they offered me while emphasising that they would accept any decision that would enable me to enjoy the game," the master blaster added.
Tendulkar's decision to quit captaincy won't make much difference for the team as he will continue to be the main guiding force for Mumbai Indians, according to Harbhajan.
"Sachin paaji is the biggest player in the side and his presence makes us one of the strongest sides in the competition. He is the biggest factor without any doubt. We won the CLT20 title with immense support from him. Sachin did not play the matches but was part of the team and always helped us keep our morale high throughout the championship.
"He wanted to take it easy and we all respect his decision. He has gone through a tough phase and wanted to take the pressure off himself. He has done so many things for us and I'll be more than happy if I can fulfill his wish and lead the side to a successful IPL campaign," Harbhajan explained.