Defending champions Mumbai Indians’ head coach Mahela Jayawardene and Director of Cricket Operations Zaheer Khan said that picking Arjun Tendulkar at the IPL Player Auction was purely a cricket decision.
Arjun, who is the son of former legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar, was bought by Mumbai Indians for Rs 20 lakh in the mini-auction of IPL on Thursday in Chennai. He was the last player to go under the hammer.
Jayawardene said the 21-year-old left-arm medium-pacer will learn and evolve with time.
“Whenever we see potential and see that guys are working really hard, we try and invest in that and it’s great to have Arjun. It will be exciting times for Sachin as well to see Arjun wearing the Mumbai t-shirt and be part of the squad,” Jayawardene told the media after the Auction in a virtual press conference.
"We've looked at it purely on a skill basis. I mean, there is going to be a big tag on his head because of Sachin. But, luckily, he's a bowler, not a batsman. So, I think Sachin will be very proud if he could bowl like Arjun."
"I think it's going to be a learning process for Arjun. He just started playing for Mumbai, and now the franchise. He will learn the ropes; he will evolve. He's still young. A very focused young man," he further said.
"We have to give him time and hopefully not put a lot of pressure on him either. Just let him evolve and work his way up, and that's what we're there to help him to do," Jayawardene added.
Arjun was with Mumbai Indians as a net bowler during the IPL 2020 in UAE. He also made his debut for the Mumbai side earlier in the year in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
"I have spent a lot of time in the nets, trying to teach him some tricks of the trade, he is a hardworking kid, he is keen on learning, it is an exciting part. The added pressure of being Sachin Tendulkar's son will always be on him, it is something he needs to live with, the environment of the team will help him. It will help him become a good cricketer, how many times a youngster gets picked in the auction and everyone is talking about him, he has to prove himself and he has to show everyone he has the goods," said Mumbai Indians' Director of Cricket Operations, Zaheer Khan during a virtual press conference.
"Over the years, you've seen with our set-up, we've always backed the youngsters," Khan said. "We have always been scouting hard for talents, give them the opportunities. That has not changed in this auction as well. If you see, we have managed to achieve that nice balance of youth and experience. So that thorough process has been there and we'll continue to do that.
"We have some exciting young talent this time as well and Arjun, for sure, has been one of them. He was part of this squad when we went to Abu Dhabi last IPL. So he has spent enough time with us."
In the players' auction held on Thursday, defending champions Mumbai Indians also picked up, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jimmy Neesham, Yudhvir Charak, Marco Jansen, and Piyush Chawla.
When asked about acquiring all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, Zaheer said: "He is someone who has capabilities of a good all-rounder, it is all about timing, we have timed it well. Neesham has the capabilities and that is what we all think, hence the opportunity. It is all about timing, it is all about getting a chance to prove yourself."