Mumbai: Two days before the start of the fifth season of the IPL, Sachin Tendulkar has announced that he will not captain Mumbai Indians, and that Harbhajan Singh will lead the team.
In a press release issued by the Mumbai franchise, Tendulkar said: "The Mumbai Indians is more than a team. It is like a family to me. At this point of time, I feel I need a break from the responsibility of captaincy of the Mumbai Indians. After due consideration, I discussed my intention to hand over the Captainship of the team to Harbhajan Singh, with Mukeshbhai [Ambani, team owner] and Nita bhabhi [Ambani]. I was touched by the graciousness and wholehearted support they offered me while emphasising that they would accept any decision which helps me to continue enjoying the game. Harbhajan will have my wholehearted support as the senior most player in the team."
Harbhajan, who captained Mumbai to the Champions League Twenty20 title in 2011 in the absence of an injured Tendulkar, termed his elevation to the captaincy as "a huge honour". "Sachin paaji spoke to me about his decision to of wanting me to take over the responsibility of the team. It is huge honour and I thank paaji and Nita bhabhi for the faith reposed in my abilities. Mumbai Indians is a great team with explosive talent and promising youngsters. I am committed to do the very best and look forward to leading the team to play to its full potential during the season."
Nita Ambani, co-owner of the franchise, said it had been a "very difficult moment" when Tendulkar told her of his decision to quit the captaincy. "We believe that Sachin is the best judge on such matters and hence, as always, we fully support his decision. I have learnt a lot during the last three seasons working with Sachin closely. Sachin is the soul of Mumbai Indians, and I am sure he will guide Bhajji as he takes on the responsibility of captaining Mumbai Indians."
Tendulkar, 38, captained Mumbai in 51 matches across four seasons of the IPL. They reached the final in 2010, but lost to Chennai Super Kings. An injury to Tendulkar in 2011 resulted in Harbhajan being given the captaincy during the Champions League Twenty20, which Mumbai went on to win.
Mumbai will begin their IPL campaign against defending champions CSK in Chennai on April 4, in the first match of the tournament.