Arjun Tendulkar left Mumbai for Goa at the start of the season in search of opportunities to play regularly. On Wednesday, his decision was vindicated when he scored his maiden first-class century on his Ranji Trophy debut against Rajasthan to emulate his father Sachin Tendulkar, who scored on his Ranji debut against Gujarat 34 years ago at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Had scored a century.
Arjun walked in with Goa at 201 for five and scored 120 off 207 balls with 16 fours and two sixes. He shared a 221-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Suyash Prabhudesai, who was eventually dismissed for 212, as Goa reached 493/8 at stumps on the second day.
“I always had faith in my ability. I knew once I was set, I needed to capitalize on it and score big runs. I thank GCA for giving me the opportunity. My next target is to win every game and every game. The ball has to be played on its merit,” the 23-year-old said while speaking to local media at the Goa Cricket Association Academy Ground in Porvorim.
Goa coach Mansoor Ali Khan is impressed with Arjun’s attitude and calls him a gritty cricketer who “does not give up easily.”
“He is following in his father’s footsteps. Whatever I have seen in international cricketers, they always work hard, give a little extra. I see the same with Arjun. During the camp ahead of the Ranji Trophy, he faced 250 balls in the nets. The effort he put in showed in his innings today. A lot of good things will come his way, he is a very focused young player,” said Khan, who played for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy and also worked at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) under Rahul Dravid.
Prashant Shetty, who is also Arjun’s personal coach and Goa’s batting coach, is thrilled with the way his baby boy is shaping up. “The excitement is immense as I have seen the ups and downs… He went through a disappointing time when he did not get the chance to play for Mumbai. He decided to move to a different state and is performing now, that makes me really happy. But then you start thinking about those bad days too. The struggle was not easy.
Khan and Shetty believed that the pressure of having a prestigious cricket surname did not bother them. “He shows no pressure of the Tendulkar surname. He just wants to play cricket. Obviously, people will talk about him being Sachin Tendulkar’s son, make noise about it, but he is not bothered,” said Khan, who added that Mumbai’s ‘Khadoos’ attitude is what he has brought with him. He is also overshadowing the players of Goa. Arjun was retained by Mumbai Indians for the 2023 season.
Shetty, who has seen him since childhood, affirmed Arjun’s passion for sports. “Arjun’s work ethic is so good that he just wants to play. It takes the pressure off. The only thing he thinks about is working on his skills and performing on the field. Who is talking about his surname. He wants to be in the nets all the time and working on his batting. He never misses his gym session. He is reaping the benefits of the efforts put in over the years. This is just the beginning,” he said.
Arjun, who came into bat late on the first day, curbed his aggressive instincts and saw the second new ball along with Prabhudesai. Both then helped bring Goa back to a position of strength.
“(On Tuesday) my first target was to face as many balls as possible. Suyash was batting on 80 so my job was to save him. Today, the approach was simply to stick to the basics. Give the first hour to the bowler and after seeing the initial phase, we took advantage of it.
Arjun played only two T20 matches for Mumbai in the 2020-21 season against Haryana and Puducherry. He was included in the Ranji Trophy squad for the group stages last season, but did not get a single match. Later, he was dropped from the team for the knockouts, following which he decided to try his luck elsewhere.
“At this point in his career, it is important for Arjun to get as much playing time on the field as possible. We believe his move to Goa will increase his chances of featuring in more competitive matches. He is starting a new phase of his cricket career.
While he did not get many chances with the bat in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy for Goa, he did well with the ball. Arjun took 10 wickets in Mushtaq Ali – the second best for Goa in the tournament and was their joint top wicket-taker in the Vijay Hazare Trophy with eight scalps.