Mumbai Indians’ director Zaheer Khan admitted that Arjun Tendulkar will have to live with the fact that he is Sachin’s son, but asserted that the 21-year-old is an exciting talent who is evolving by the day. On Thursday, Mumbai Indians snapped up Arjun in the auction for his base price of 20 lakh.
The name of Arjun Tendulkar - the son of Sachin - falling in the final IPL 2021 auction shortlist raised plenty of eyebrows, but while on Thursday it looked like the young left-arm seamer might go unsold, Mumbai Indians came to Sachin Jr’s rescue and snapped him up in the auction for his base price of 20 lakh. Arjun’s purchase broke the internet in seconds, and, unsurprisingly, social media was filled with cries of ‘nepotism’, for the masses believed that Arjun Tendulkar only ever got an IPL contract owing to the name of his father.
Mumbai Indians’ director Zaheer Khan conceded that, unfortunately, Arjun will have to live with the pressure of being Sachin’s son even though he got picked for his skill and talent, but asserted that the 21-year-old is an ‘exciting talent’ who can thrive in the presence of Mumbai’s star-studded coaching staff.
"We've some exciting talent this time and Arjun, for sure, has been one of them. I have spent a lot of time with him in the nets, working alongside him, trying to teach him a few tricks of the trade and that has been going well,” Zaheer was quoted as saying by TOI.
"And look, the added pressure of the name Sachin Tendulkar is always going to be there on him and something which he will have to live by, but we are very hopeful that environment, which we have around the team is definitely going to help them, the likes of Shane Bond, Mahela, the whole system which we have around the team is definitely going to help them (in) becoming a better cricketer.”
Zaheer, who has seen young Arjun come through the ranks in professional cricket, however, attested that it is now up to the youngster to prove to the world that he belongs to the highest level.
“We are looking at things under very simple lens. He is just a youngster coming in the side. He has to prove himself. He has to show all the coaching staff and the think tank of the team that he is got the goods to belong there, so what he does there at the highest level is something in his hands.”
It was not just Zaheer Khan who had words of encouragement for young Arjun, as the franchise’s head coach Mahela Jayawardene, too, heaped praise on the 21-year-old. Jayawardene squashed suggestions of nepotism and asserted that MI’s purchase of Arjun Tendulkar was a pure ‘skill-based’ buy.
"We have looked at it purely on a skills-basis. I mean, there is going to be a big tag on his head, because of Sachin, but luckily he is a bowler, not a batsman, so I think, Sachin will be very proud, if he could bowl like Arjun," Jayawardene said.
Arjun is no stranger to the Mumbai camp, having spent two years bowling in the nets to the franchise’s players, including in IPL 2020, and Jayawardene was hopeful of the 21-year-old evolving with time and working his way up the ladder.
"It's really nice, great to have Arjun. He's worked really hard for a couple of years in the nets, bowling to the guys. Especially in the UAE he worked really hard.
"I think it is going to be learning process for Arjun, he just started playing for Mumbai and now with the franchise, so he will learn the ropes, he will evolve, he is still young but a very focused young man, so you have to give him some time and hopefully not put lot of pressure on him either, just let him evolve as he evolves around and work his way up, that is what we are there to help him to do,” said the MI head coach.
Last month, Arjun Tendulkar made his professional debut for Mumbai in the 2020/21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.