IPL 2023: For Arjun Tendulkar, it’s going to be a tough road ahead

His IPL debut for Mumbai Indians on Sunday, which came after a wait of two full seasons in the dugout, was arguably the most talked-about story

Courtesy: Twitter
Courtesy: Twitter

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Kolkata: What’s in a name? Everything – and the 23-year-old Arjun Tendulkar knows about it only too well since he took his first tentative steps in competitive cricket.

His IPL debut for Mumbai Indians on Sunday, which came after a wait of two full seasons in the dugout, was arguably the most talked about story apart from Venkatesh Iyer’s century on a searingly hot afternoon at the Wankhede. The strapping, left-arm seamer did not exactly set the stadium on fire, being used for two overs with the new ball (he went for 17 runs), but neither did he look a misfit.

In the unforgiving world of IPL, there is no room for an experiment which can prove to be costly for the franchise early on in the season. Tendulkar jr, who was first drafted by the Mumbai Paltan in 2021 for a base price of Rs two million, spent the first season as a net bowler and was signed up in last year’s mega auction at a slight premium of three million.

Despite virtually the entire 2022 season being played at home, Arjun had to wait for his turn for another full season till the team’s think tank (including Papa Tendulkar the mentor) were convinced of his abilities to take the pressure. At the outset, he looks more of a streetsmart cricketer – someone who can work up a lively pace and managed to take away a few deliveries from the left-handed Iyer and is known to be a handy lower order batsman who has a century on first class debut.

It was an emotional moment for the Tendulkars, who are private persons and are hardly known to wear their hearts on the sleeves. The Little Master’s long Twitter post on Sunday said it all: ‘’Arjun, today you have taken an important step in your journey as a cricketer. As your father, someone who loves you and is passionate about the game, I know you will continue to give the game the respect it deserves and the game will love you back,’’ Tendulkar said in a heartfelt message.

‘’You have worked very hard to reach here and I am sure you will continue to do so. This is the start of a beautiful journey. All the best,’’ he said.

No prizes for guessing that the news of Arjun’s IPL debut was greeted with dollops of love and affection on social media – from Sachin’s peers like Sourav Ganguly to erstwhile teammates like Virender Sehwag and Sreesanth. Needless to say, they were generous but such euphoria will be shortlived as a tougher test awaits Tendulkar jr.  

The pressure of a famous surname – be it a Gavaskar, Bachchan or Tendulkar – is expected to weigh heavy on the next generation as they constantly suffer in comparison in terms of their craft. We have been privy to Rohan Gavaskar’s case, an useful allrounder with a combination of aggressive batting, tight left-arm spin and smart close-in fielding.

He ended up donning the India colours for 11 ODIs and was signed up for Kolkata Knight Riders for one season in 2010, though one feels he could have done better with his skillsets if he had arrived at a more burgeoning period of franchise cricket. Much like Rohan, now a well known TV pundit, Arjun is also chalk-and-cheese with his father with the type of cricket he plays – though an T20I debut in future may not be a far-fetched proposal.

Here’s hoping we see more of the young man soon…

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