IPL EXTRAS: Tendulkar has a go in the nets at Mumbai Indians' training session
The Mumbai Indians players were buoyed by the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, who joined the team's training session in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday as the high-profile franchise start their title defence against Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 7 on Wednesday.
Tendulkar, who reached the Gulf nation late Monday night, arrived at the venue in the team's practise outfit at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The former Mumbai Indians captain has been named as an ‘MI Icon’ and will do his bit to promote the franchise's cause of ‘Education for All’.
The legend later, had a go in the nets for a session that lasted half-an hour.
He also did his customary knocking facing throwdowns from a member of the support staff.
"It was a lesson for the youngsters in the manner Sachin went about his drills. If someone thought that he wanted to hit a few balls for fun, they were mistaken. His drills were just like it used to be before a match," an MI source told PTI.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Tendulkar will be part of MI's think tank
Tendulkar also keenly watched the Rohit Sharmas and the Kieron Pollards at the net session and was seen talking to chief coach John Wright.
The highest scorer of all time in international cricket, Tendulkar will be a part of the team's think-tank where in he will be providing inputs to coach Wright and skipper Sharma on team combination and strategies.
The iconic cricketer had earlier expressed desire to contribute with his expertise as Mumbai Indians aim to do an encore like Chennai Super Kings did in 2010, 2011 editions of the cash-rich league.
"I have been a part of the Mumbai Indians team since its inception and am delighted to continue my association. This season with Mumbai Indians will be a different experience for me and I look forward to closely interacting with the experienced support staff and sharing my learnings with the exciting youngsters in the team," he was quoted as saying earlier this week.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Read Dhoni's cheeky suggestion on how to keep IPL clean!
His deafening silence on the IPL spot-fixing scandal infuriated many but an unruffled Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni preferred to look at the lighter side of the controversy.
"We will try the laundry, that's good, will keep us clean," Chennai Super Kings captain Dhoni told ESPNCricinfo when asked how to keep the event clean.
Chennai Super Kings along with Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra’s Rajasthan Royals are the two IPL teams that are at the centre of the fixing and betting storm.
Dhoni arrived in the UAE on Monday for the first leg of the seventh IPL.
The wicket-keeper-batsman, accused of trying to shield betting accused and CSK's former Team Principal Gurunath Meiyappan during his deposition in front of the Justice Mudgal Committee, has so far avoided questions related to the IPL scandal that broke out last May.
The India and CSK captain was criticised for remaining silent on the matter despite the fact that the franchise captained by him was at the centre of the row.
He later went on to sue a news channel for Rs 100 crore for falsely insinuating that he could be involved in betting.
Image: Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni with teammate Suresh Raina and coach Stephen Fleming at the launch of the new sponsor logo on the team jersey on Monday
Photographs: Chennai Super Kings/Facebook
'Pakistan players could have added value to IPL'
Former captain Wasim Akram believes that the time is right for Pakistani players to be allowed back into the Indian Premier League as it would help the event connect with more fans, in not just the subcontinent but, all over the world.
Pakistani players have been barred from participating in the IPL since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. They only played in the first edition of the event but since than have been kept out for different reasons, one of them being the political uncertainty between the two countries.
"Whenever India and Pakistan players have played either against each other or together, they have attracted lot of crowds and you get plenty of support, especially in this part of the world. I hope that in the near future Pakistani players will be able to participate because we have great talent," Wasim said in an interview to Pakpassion.net.
Wasim, who is also the bowling coach of Kolkata Knight Riders, said Pakistani players can add value to any top T20 event.
Image: Wasim Akram with Shahid Afridi
Photographs: Michael Steele/Getty Images
'Mixing sports and politics doing no good'
"Imagine Saeed Ajmal playing. It would have been perfect in these conditions," he said referring to the first leg of IPL matches in the United Arab Emirates.
"Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi playing would have been huge. This was their home ground. But let's see it's a decision that the cricket boards of both countries have to take. Mixing sports and politics was going to do no good," he said.
The former Pakistan captain also felt that conditions and facilities in the UAE were ideal for IPL and international cricket.
"It feels good to be back and seeing the facilities here I must say it is as good as any ground I have seen around the world. I'm very sure IPL will start off with a bang here. The buzz is already around and my friends were calling and asking for tickets again," said the former pacer.
He said he knew the wickets in the UAE like the back of his hand and his expertise will definitely benefit KKR.
"The conditions are similar and probable better wickets with the ball coming nicely on the bat and it will be good for the T20 format. In T20 cricket, people come for entertainment and it is sixes, fours and wickets that makes it interesting," he said.
Image: Wasim Akram with Ravi Shastri
Photographs: Wasim Akram/Twitter