Sachin likely to play against Chennai: Rajput

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Sachin Tendulkar, who is yet to play his first ball in the IPL, could feature in the next tie against Chennai, Mumbai Indians coach Lalchand Rajput said.

Updated: May 16, 2008 16:41 IST
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Sachin Tendulkar, who is yet to play his first ball in the Indian Premier League, could feature in the crucial next tie against Chennai, Mumbai Indians coach Lalchand Rajput said on Sunday.

"Sachin has been batting for the last two days during practice and we are hoping that he will be playing the next match," Rajput said.

A groin injury has kept Tendulkar out of the IPL so far but the batsman has been practising with the team during the last two practice sessions.

Rajput said the presence of Tendulkar in the team would lift the morale of the side ahead of crucial game.

"It has been good for morale to be winning before he (Tendulkar) was in the team and him coming back will further boost our players and put pressure on the other teams," Rajput said.

Tendulkar, if fit ahead of the match on May 14 is also likely to take over as captain, with South African Shaun Pollock stepping aside.

"Pollock's contribution to the team has been immense but when Sachin comes everyone will revolve around him," Rajput said.

Tendulkar is likely to open the innings with Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya.

Mumbai have won three matches out of seven so far and are placed in the bottom half of the team standings with seven games to go.

Rajput said a six-day break between the last match and the next had helped rejuvenate the players.

"The next four matches will be intense and we will be looking to gather momentum," he said.

Pollock, who was having a back problem, was fit now and Abhishek Nayar who was unable to bowl earlier had also recovered, Rajput said.

The team had experimented with players in the first few games which had allowed them to assess their strengths and weaknesses, he said, adding that the team now had a wide choice with many of the youngsters in the team striking form.

The team during the last two practice sessions had been working on reducing the number of extras they conceded and on getting more run-outs in the field, he added.

They would also be trying to improve their batting and were working on getting at least batsman to hold one end up for about 15 overs, he said.

The coach also praised youngsters Saurabh Tiwary, Manish Pandey, T Vijay Takawale, Dhaval Kulkarni and Rohan Raje for their performances so far.

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