Bangalore, April 3 (IANS): Veteran Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting is excited to captain Mumbai Indians (MI) in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 tournament this season.
Mumbai Indians will play their first game against hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) Thursday at the Chinnaswamy stadium in the city centre.
"It's the first time I am captaining a team in this format of the game (T20) though I played back home in such games as a regular player. I am also excited to play with great cricketers like Sachin (Tendulkar) and Harbhajan (Singh)," Ponting told reporters late Wednesday after a gruelling practice session at the nets under the floodlights.
Being aware of the team not having won the IPL tournament so far despite reaching the finals once and semi-finals twice in the past, Ponting said the team was not thinking about the title right now but on Thursday's game against RCB.
"There are some teams which have not won the tournament either in spite of being right up there. We are thinking of tomorrow's (Thursday) game. We cannot afford to look too far ahead. I am sure towards the end of the tournament, we will be right up there," Ponting asserted at the pre-match presser.
Admitting that the team would miss its ace seamer Lasith Malinga in the opening tie as he is suffering from a sour back, Ponting said the Sri Lankan player would join the team in Mumbai April 5 and hopefully fit to play soon.
"It is disappointing to miss Malinga in the first game. I hope he will be okay after a couple of days and be fit to play for us. We could use Mitchell Johnson, Jacob Oram or Nathan Coulter-Nile in place of Malinga," the former Aussie skipper said.
Though Mumbai Indians play their next game against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at Chennai April 6, Malinga will not be in the team owing to the ban on Sri Lankan players in all matches hosted in Chennai over the Sri Lankan-Tamils' issue.
Asked who would join Tendulkar for opening the innings, Ponting said though anybody could do so, the team management would decide Thursday evening after assessing the weather, the pitch condition and toss.
"Anybody can open with Sachin depending upon weather and pitch conditions. We could end up playing a shorter game as it has been raining here during the past days, but not Wednesday. Keeping this in mind, we will decide on the opening combination before toss," the skipper observed.
He, however, admitted that in the last couple of seasons, the team had swapped and employing different opening combinations.