Arjun Tendulkar
Arjun Tendulkar of the Mumbai Indians celebrates after claiming the wicket of Bhuvneshwar Kumar of the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Tata Indian Premier League match at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad, April 18, 2023. That was his maiden wicket in IPL. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

The name Tendulkar comes with high expectations. It is more remembered for Sachin’s prolific run-scoring. Hi son Arjun is the new Tendulkar on the block.

His first wicket in the Indian Premier League was a cause for celebration for the Mumbai Indians. Bhuvneshwar Kumar sliced a wide yorker, and captain Rohit Sharma pouched it at short extra-cover. A grinning Sharma ran to Tendulkar and hugged him as the rest of the Mumbai Indians teammates gathered to congratulate the young seamer on his maiden wicket.

Relief was writ large on Tendulkar’s face. He seemed happy with the scalp but more relieved that he emerged unscathed in the last over as the Mumbai Indians beat the Hyderabad Sunrisers.

The pressure of the final over

Hyderabad required 20 runs to win when Tendulkar marked his runup for the final over on Tuesday. Was that a good move? I wondered. After all, this was only his second game. He bowled only two overs on his debut against the Kolkata Knight Riders two days ago. That too in the powerplay. Tendulkar did that against Hyderabad too, opening the bowling with two tidy overs. But the final over is different. The pressure can be crippling as Yash Dayal of the Gujarat Titans found out against Rinku Singh of the Kolkata Knight Riders, conceding 30 runs in the last five balls.

Usually, the final over is entrusted to the most experienced and accurate bowler. Someone like Sandeep Sharma. The Rajasthan Royals bowler overcame initial jitters to nail three yorkers to stop a legendary finisher like Mahendra Singh Dhoni of the Chennai Super Kings.

Can Tendulkar do that? He’s just 23, playing only his second IPL game. A savage attack would scar him and ruin his career. But Tendulkar was unfazed as he sent down a series of wide yorkers to halt Hyderabad’s victory charge.

Unlike his father, Sachin, the young Tendulkar is a man of few words. At the post match interview, Arjun played down his maiden wicket saying his focus was on delivering a tight over for the team. “I love bowling; I am happy to bowl anytime the captain asks me to and just stick to the team plan and give my best,” he added.

It’s not easy being Arjun Tendulkar. He can never shake off his father’s long shadow. Sachin Tendulkar is arguably the best batter in history, and that puts Arjun under the microscope every time he runs on to a cricket pitch. And the IPL is one of the biggest stages in white-ball cricket. So the pressure is intense, and the youngster has handled it well so far.

The young Tendulkar is more of an allrounder, a bowler who can bat. He has scored a century in first-class cricket, but much of the focus has been on his left-arm seam bowling.

How good a bowler is Arjun Tendulkar? His IPL career is only 4.5 overs old, so it’s too early to form an opinion.

I had a good look at his runup and delivery stride. No, there were no loping strides before gathering momentum. Tendulkar’s is more a hurried run-up, more like a sprint. Much like Malcolm Marshall or Wasim Akram. No, I’m not drawing comparisons here, but merely referencing the style of the run-up.

He’s got a good gather at the crease and a seamless delivery stride. More importantly, he’s accurate. That mattered in the death over, where he gave away only four runs, including a wide and a leg bye, while sending down yorkers. His composure was good, and he was sensible enough to avoid variations. It worked well.

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Captain Sharma should take some credit for handling Tendulkar well. He trusted the youngster and didn’t smother him advice. Against the KKR, he shielded the seamer by keeping his out of the firing line when Venkatesh Iyer lashed a four and six in Tendulkar’s second IPL over.

That’s okay in the early phase. Tendulkar has to pull his weight in the matches to come. There could be bad days when he could hammered for runs; it happens to the best bowlers. The real test is how you bounce back from such ordeals. Well, he can always turn to his father for advice.

Sterner tests await Arjun Tendulkar as Mumbai fight back to the middle of the points table. Matches ahead will test his mettle, and we will know how good he is. So far, it’s been promising.