I look forward to leading the team to play to its full potential, said Ricky Ponting. © Getty Images

Mumbai Indians have named Ricky Ponting as the captain of the team for the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League, which starts on April 3.

After all the speculation as to whether Harbhajan Singh would continue in the job or if Sachin Tendulkar would be given the responsibility, the franchise sprung the surprise on Thursday (February 21) afternoon. Ponting, who was bought at the base price of US$ 400,000 during the auction earlier in February, was earlier a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders set-up.

“It’s a huge honour and I thank Mrs (Nita) Ambani and the Mumbai Indians management for the faith they have reposed in my abilities,” said Ponting in a statement issued by the franchise. “Mumbai Indians has the potent combination of Indian and international cricketers and I look forward to leading the team to play to its full potential.”

The Mumbai Indians owners, in consultation with Anil Kumble, the team’s Chief Mentor, John Wright, the new Head Coach, and Tendulkar, decided on Ponting to lead the side.

“Ricky has a lot of experience to lead a competitive and a high-profile side like Mumbai Indians in the IPL,” said Kumble. “Sachin readily agreed to my suggestion that Mumbai Indians is best served when he leads the batting unburdened by the rigours of captaincy. It was our idea (Sachin and mine) to bring in Ricky as the captain of the Mumbai Indians.”

In the statement, Nita Ambani said, “I welcome Ricky Ponting to the team as the leader of the side. Today we have world’s two biggest cricketing greats in Sachin and Ricky, and I am sure the duo will be an inspiration for the youngsters in the team. Sachin will always be an integral and important part of Mumbai Indians’ leadership. Ricky will bring in fresh perspective in the team leadership and will have the support of the best cricketing minds like Sachin, Anil and John Wright.”

Mumbai Indians will start their IPL 2013 campaign on April 4 in Bangalore.