Cape Town: Skipper Sachin Tendulkar might have scripted Mumbai Indians' win over Chennai Super Kings in the IPL opener last night, but the batting maestro credited the victory to mentor Shaun Pollock and fielding coach Jonty Rhodes and said the duo were among the best cricketing brains in South Africa.
Tendulkar scored a masterly unbeaten 59 to help his side post a competitive score of 166 on the board and then displayed witty leadership qualities on the field to restrict the Super Kings and start their campaign in the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on a winning note.
However, Tendulkar feels that it was Pollock and Rhodes' inputs about South African conditions that played a crucial role in his side's victory against the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings.
"There are no better people than Shaun and Jonty to tell us about the conditions. They have worked tremendously over the past few weeks along with the third coach Praveen Amre," Tendulkar said.
"Pollock and Rhodes have been working with the Mumbai Indians playing squad in Durban and used all their expertise in getting the youngsters used to the conditions here. Rhodes and Pollock are among the best minds in South African cricket," he added.
Tendulkar said the team's decision to bring a pool of players to Durban to acclimatise with the weather conditions bore fruit for the Mumbai outfit.
"We never knew the event would be held here. Our original plan was to get them here to learn to play differently and probably even some horizontal bat shots," he said.
Chennai Super Kings skipper Dhoni also feels home-grown players make a lot of difference in the South African conditions and rued the absence of Albie Morkel, who missed the opening match because an airline misplaced his kit bag.
"Albie adds a lot of explosive power lower down the order and can bowl effectively in the middle overs," said Dhoni.
Interestingly, although there may be no home advantage for any of the eight teams in the second edition of the Twenty20 event, the sides have drawn advantage from the knowledge of South Africans available in their squad.
Royal Challengers Bangalore is the most blessed team with the presence of three of South Africa's best cricketers in Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn in their squad.
To add to that, to have South African-born Englishman Kevin Pietersen as captain, Ray Jennings as chief coach and Eric Simons as bowling coach provides icing on the cake for the Vijay Mallaya-owned Bangalore team.