Arjun Tendulkar, the 22-year-old son of the great Sachin Tendulkar, was roped by five-time Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Mumbai Indians (MI) for the first time in 2021. He was repurchased during this year’s mega auction, for $38,650 (INR 30 lakh). However, the all-rounder failed to make his debut for the Rohit Sharma-led side for the second year running.

The left-arm speedster was earlier associated with the franchise as a net bowler for a long time and had even flown to the UAE for the tournament’s 13th edition in 2020.

This year’s IPL turned out to be the worst ever for the Mumbai Indians as they ended the event at the bottom of the pile, recording only four victories in 14 games in the cash-rich league.

As the Mukesh and Nita Ambani-owned outfit failed to resolve their problems, they relied on youngsters to change their fortunes midway through the Indian Premier League, and that was precisely the reason why the likes of Ramandeep Singh, Sanjay Yadav, Tristian Stubbs, Dewald Brevis, and Kumar Kartikeya were handed their debut caps in the season.

One man though still missed out and he was none other than Arjun Tendulkar.

After losing eight matches in a row and when it became a certainty that Mumbai Indians were no longer in contention for a spot in the playoffs, fans on social media urged captain Rohit Sharma to give Arjun Tendulkar an opportunity in the league.

The growing support for the 22-year-old didn’t help his cause as Mumbai’s management decided against handing a debut to Arjun Tendulkar.

The team’s supporters were furious at the treatment meted out to a talented young cricketer and sought explanations from captain Rohit as to why Arjun was being neglected.

While there was no explanation from Mumbai Indians at that stage, the team’s bowling coach Shane Bond has finally revealed the reasons behind Arjun Tendulkar’s exclusion from the playing XI.

Bond, a retired New Zealand fast bowler, knows a thing or two about pace bowling and according to him, Arjun Tendulkar is not yet ready to start a game for Mumbai.

Bond also mentioned that Tendulkar needed considerable improvement in all facets of his game but his batting and fielding needed a major uplift.

“He’s got some work to do. When you’re playing for a team like Mumbai, making the squad is one thing but entering the playing XI is another. He still has a lot of hard work and development to do,” Bond said in a conversation with Indian media outlet Sportskeeda.

“When you play at this level, there’s a fine line between giving everyone a game… but you have to earn your spot too. Arjun needs to work on his batting and fielding before finding a place on the team. Hopefully, he can make those progressions and earn a spot in the team,” he concluded.

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This takes us back to a very pertinent question – if Arjun Tendulkar wasn’t good enough, then why was he brought into the Mumbai squad in the first place?

Though Mumbai Indians bowling coach emphasised that it was still early days for Arjun Tendulkar in his career, we beg to differ.

Many youngsters who are much younger than Arjun have played in the IPL and have gone on to earn the national caps of their respective countries.

But if Arjun Tendulkar is being shielded from all the pressure that is there in the IPL, then it means that he’s simply not worthy enough to be a part of Mumbai Indians and the franchise knows it too.

At the time of the IPL auction, Mumbai Indians had stressed that they had opted for Arjun Tendulkar because the franchise believed in his ability and talent.

Shane Bond’s words, however, say otherwise.

Perhaps being Sachin Tendulkar’s son helped Arjun. After all, the legendary cricketer still has a huge say in the corridors of power in India’s cricket, especially in Mumbai.

This is a clear-cut case of nepotism trumping merit because if Arjun wasn’t Sachin Tendulkar’s son, he would have never been part of the Mumbai Indians contingent.

Nepotism, however, isn’t new to Indian cricket. Despite the Justice Lodha committee reforms, most of the state associations in the country are currently ruled by sons and relatives of former cricketers and powerful politicians.

This is an ugly side of Indian cricket that everyone is aware of but nobody raises a voice against.

Arjun Tendulkar’s case is like a small fish in a large pond. Still, Sachin could have avoided lobbying for his not-so-talented son. That way he wouldn’t have tarnished his reputation. But the latest episode proves that he’s a father first and a great individual later.