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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Captain Ponting eyes IPL glory for Mumbai Indians

Captain Ponting eyes IPL glory for Mumbai Indians

Last updated on: March 31, 2013 23:39 IST

'I am really excited to be back in the IPL'

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Harish Kotian

Following his flop show in the inaugural edition of the IPL, Ricky Ponting is hoping to make a big impact as captain and batting mainstay of Mumbai Indians in the sixth edition of the Twenty20 tournament, starting April 3.

"I am really excited to be back in the IPL. I said when I finished last time that I hoped to come back and play in the IPL again; the way things have worked out after my retirement from international, and then finishing off the domestic season for Tasmania and playing well, has given me an opportunity to be back here," Ponting said in Mumbai on Sunday.

Ponting scored just 39 runs for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2008 and did not take part again in the tournament before changing his mind following his retirement from international cricket at the end of last year. He was snapped up by Mumbai Indians at the players' auction in January for a base price of $400,000 and handed the huge responsibility of leading the side.

"There is no better franchise to be with than the Mumbai Indians; the three days I have been here, there has been a lot of excitement around the boys, around the team. The way we have trained over the last three days has been really exciting and it is really fair to say that everyone in our squad is really excited about our opening game on the 4th [of April]," he said.


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Ponting was the highest run-getter in Sheffield Shield

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The 38-year-old was in great form coming into the IPL, having finished as the top run-getter in the Australian domestic Sheffield Shield tournament with a tally of 911 runs in nine matches, at an average of 75, with three centuries and four fifties.

Ponting, who retired from international cricket last December, says he is more busy since giving up international cricket, having signed up for various T20 leagues around the world. After the IPL, he will play for Surrey in English county cricket before taking part in the Caribbean Premier League, where he was the first foreign player to be signed up.

"My wife thought that once I retire from international cricket things will start to slow down, but actually I have been playing a bit more; and to tell you the truth, I have been away from home a bit more.

"So I think that goes to show my love for the game. The reason that I didn't come to IPL 2 and 3 was because I had too much international cricket all the time, and now that I do not have international cricket, the opportunity for me play in these domestic tournaments are really opening up. I am obviously here for the next couple of months and then two months stint at Surrey and then another five weeks at the Carribbean Premier League as well. My whole focus is now that I am the best player and the best leader for the Mumbai Indians over the next two months," he said.


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'I couldn't keep playing all the three formats of the game as well as I wanted to'

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Ponting, who played 168 Tests and 375 ODIs for Australia, and scored above 13000 runs in both the formats, said he deliberately chose not to play T20 cricket when playing international cricket since his focus was primarily on Tests and ODIs.

"For me, as an international cricketer, Test cricket and ODI cricket was what was all about and I had to make some tough decisions towards the end of my international career not to play Twenty20 cricket internationally.

"I couldn't keep playing all the three formats of the game as well as I wanted to so I gave up T20 cricket in the short term, but always knew that at the end of my international career there will be a chance to come back and play again.

"I really enjoyed the Big Bash this year and I really got into the rhythm of T20 cricket which probably I hadn't done before so that is where this whole thing eventuated," he said.


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'We are all one... the Mumbai Indians are all one'

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As captain of Australia, Ponting had his fair share of controversies when playing against India and was involved in the infamous Sydney Test in 2008. when the two teams clashed with each other.

Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, who are his team-mates at Mumbai Indians, were also involved in that match but Ponting says the past is behind them and they will work together as a group to achieve success for their franchise.

"We are all friends for the next few months; that is one thing I have made clear to the guys already here. Sachin [Tendulkar] hasn't been around the team yet, Harbhajan [Singh] hasn't been around the team yet; we will meet up with those guys. We are all one... the Mumbai Indians are all one. I am here to do the best that I can do that to play well and to captain the side well over the next two months. Trust me we won't leave any stone unturned as far as the preparations are concerned and we will make sure that everything we do is for another and hopefully then lead us to some great success with the team," he said.


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'I have a really good idea of what makes good teams successful'

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Mumbai Indians have been one of the most consistent teams in the IPL in the last few years. They made it to the final in 2010 and also progressed to the knock-out in the last two years but haven't won the title yet, something  Ponting hopes will happen this year.

"Mumbai Indians have a very proud tradition in the IPL, finishing at the top and being in the semi-finals. The only thing they haven't cracked is winning the tournament yet and hopefully this year they will.

"Luckily I had the chance to captain Tasmania, I captained Australia for a long time; I have a really good idea of what makes good teams successful and they are all the things I will be bringing to the table in Mumbai," he added.


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It will be fun to be in the same team as Tendulkar, says Ponting

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For Ponting, the highlight of playing the IPL is the chance to be in the same team as Sachin Tendulkar for the first time in his career.

"I think the highlight of coming to Mumbai is, obviously, we are always playing against Sachin, and the roar of the crowd here in Mumbai when Sachin is about to play his first ball is quite deafening. I was always on the opposition team, but now I am in his team; so this time it will be more fun for me I think," he said.


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