Chennai: Captaining Mumbai Indians is not something new to Harbhajan Singh and the offspinner wants Sachin Tendulkar to play freely as he is confident of handling the responsibility.
"He (Tendulkar) has done so much for us and this is a small thing I can do to take the team forward. Let him be free and play freely. Score as many runs he wants. I am sure he will score lot of runs for Mumbai Indians," Harbhajan said at a press conference.
"Sachin means the biggest factor for us. Obviously, he just wanted to take it easy because he has gone through very tough phase of his life in the last six to eight months. He just said he wanted me to take off the pressure from him and he gave this responsibility to me," Harbhajan stated.
Harbhajan will be leading the Mumbai franchise in the fifth edition of IPL instead of Tendulkar.
He also read out an official statement from the franchise, "Sachin spoke to me about his decision of wanting me to take over this responsibility of leading the team. It is a huge honour for me. I would like to thank Paaji and Nita Bhabi for the faith reposed in my ability," he told reporters here taking time of the practice session ahead of Mumbai Indians opening match against Chennai Super Kings on April 4.
Harbhajan said that MI are confident of beating any side in the IPL. "We have the team which can beat any team in this competition and I have the belief and the will to take the team forward and hopefully we will play to our potential and do well."
Harbhajan didn't forget to mention that it was because of Tendulkar that lot of cricketers from his era started playing. "He is the reason for many of us started playing cricket. Always great to have him in the team," he said.
Tendulkar is one person who even if he is not playing has an impact and influence on his teammates' performance. "Last year in the Champions League T20, he was not playing but his suggestions and inputs were as important as any other 11 walking on the field. He is going to make a big difference when he is there."
On getting back into the Indian team, Harbhajan said "It is the prime thing. I would like to do well in the IPL. I have been playing domestic cricket. Playing for India is way bigger than IPL or the Champions League. As a player, I would love to be there as soon as possible and take the same place where I was and start winning games for Team India."
Speaking about their opponents Chennai Super Kings, Harbhajan said it was a strong side especially playing at home. "They have won a lot of games in Chennai. They won the IPL twice, which no other team had done."
But he was optimistic his side would start their campaign on a winning note. "I believe, if you put your act together and back your ability and have will and faith in our guys they can compete with any team in the competition. Day after will be a very good game. We would like to go out there and start on a winning note."
However, he refused to attach much significance to winning the first game. "Obviously, starting will be very good. But it is not how you start but how you finish matters most. I believe in finishing the race rather than starting," Harbhajan said.