Arjun, a left-arm pacer, made his debut for the Mumbai senior team only recently. Listed as player No 212 in the auction, the 21-year-old’s name was the last to be called out, with MI being the sole bidders. “”It’s really nice, great to have Arjun. He’s worked really hard for a couple of years in the nets, bowling to the guys. Especially in the UAE he worked really hard,” said Jayawardene at a virtual press conference held after the auction.
“We have looked at it purely on a skills-basis. I mean, there is going to be a big tag on his head, because of Sachin, but luckily he is a bowler, not a batsman, so I think, Sachin will be very proud, if he could bowl like Arjun,” explained the former Lankan captain.
“I think it is going to be learning process for Arjun, he just started playing for Mumbai and now with the franchise, so he will learn the ropes, he will evolve, he is still young but a very focused young man, so you have to give him some time and hopefully not put lot of pressure on him either, just let him evolve as he evolves around and work his way up, that is what we are there to help him to do,” Jayawardene said.
Zaheer, who being a former India left-arm seamer must’ve observed Arjun closely in the MI nets, complimented Arjun for being a “hard-working kid.”
“We’ve some exciting talent this time and Arjun, for sure, has been one of them. I have spent a lot of time with him in the nets, working alongside him, trying to teach him a few tricks of the trade and that has been going well. Like Mahela said, Arjun is a hard-working kid and really is keen on learning, so that is something which is an exciting part,” Zaheer praised Arjun.
“And look, the added pressure of the name Sachin Tendulkar is always going to be there on him and something which he will have to live by, but we are very hopeful that environment, which we have around the team is definitely going to help them, the likes of Shane Bond, Mahela, the whole system which we have around the team is definitely going to help them (in) becoming a better cricketer,” he added.
Arjun, Zaheer felt, now will need to prove that he has the substance to survive in the ruthless world of the IPL. “We are looking at things under very simple lens. He is just a youngster coming in the side. He has to prove himself. He has to show all the coaching staff and the think tank of the team that he is got the goods to belong there, so what he does there at the highest level is something in his hands,” said the 42-year-old.
MI owner Akash Ambani admired Arjun for having a “beautiful skill-set.” “Arjun has a beautiful skill-set, he is left-arm fast bowler and can bat left-arm, there are not many of those in world cricket, but it is very important that his process and progression happens as any other young cricketer’s progressions happens and fortunately at MI, we help individuals reach their potential, it is all on their hard-work, but we believe we have the environment to do that, and hopefully we can see Arjun reach his potential in the coming years, as many other youngsters without taking names have,” gushed Ambani.
Just a few days back, on February 14, Tendulkar out in a superb all-round show, smashing a 31-ball unbeaten 77 and picked up three for 41 to help MIG Cricket Club rout Islam Gymkhana by 194 runs in a Police Invitation Shield game.