Mumbai Indians have signed Richard Levi, the much-wanted South Africa batsman who recently hit the fastest Twenty20 international hundred, as a replacement for allrounder Andrew Symonds. Levi, who went unsold in the IPL player auction on February 4, had been contacted by various IPL franchises following his record-breaking century in the second Twenty20 international against New Zealand in Hamilton. Symonds, the former Australia allrounder, retired from professional cricket, citing family reasons, earlier this month.
Levi announced his arrival on the international stage in only his second T20I. Opening the innings in South Africa's chase of 174 against New Zealand, he smashed 13 sixes - a record - in an unbeaten 117 off 51 balls. His century came off just 45 balls. Prior to that knock, Levi had spent four seasons with South African franchise Cape Cobras, impressing in the domestic limited-overs competitions and the 2011-12 Champions League.
Levi said he was excited to join Mumbai Indians because he would have the opportunity to play alongside his hero Sachin Tendulkar. "I have heard from friends that Mumbai Indians is like an extended family where the team shares a great bond and trusts youngsters," he said. "Sachin Tendulkar has been my childhood hero and it would be exciting to share the dressing room with him."
Mumbai Indians started the last IPL season with Tendulkar opening alongside Davy Jacobs, the South African wicketkeeper-batsman. Jacobs, though, has had problems with injuries and has not played professional cricket since last year's Champions League due to a recurring hip problem. Mumbai Indians have had to try different opening combinations, with Aiden Blizzard, Sarul Kanwar and James Franklin all getting opportunities at the top of the order. Levi could bring solidity to the position if he cements his place.