Rohit Sharma vs Hardik Pandya: Getting to the bottom of Mumbai Indians captaincy mess ahead of IPL 2024

When MI begin their IPL 2024 campaign, it will be the first instance of an Indian captain (Rohit) playing under someone else (Pandya) on a designated basis.

Rohit Sharma vs Hardik Pandya

It’s been three months since Mumbai Indians officially announced their captaincy swap, with young Hardik Pandya replacing inspirational long-time skipper Rohit Sharma. Once it became clear that Pandya would be traded from Gujarat Titans – whom he led to the IPL title in its 2022 debut and the final the following year – to the five-time champions, no one had any doubt that Pandya would take Reins of India’s captain across all formats.

It is a change that has not gone down well with the fans and perhaps even Rohit himself, although to his great credit, he has maintained a respectful silence. More than the change, the manner in which Rohit was displaced has angered the vast majority of his supporters, whose anger is directed at the franchise and its head coach Mark Boucher as well as (unfairly?) Pandya.

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When MI begin their campaign, interestingly, against Pandya’s previous franchise in Ahmedabad, it will be the first instance of an Indian captain playing under someone else on an assigned basis. Logically speaking, this should not affect the team’s fortunes, as the players are keen to point out at every opportunity that they are all ‘professional’. But the undercurrents will continue to simmer; The maturity with which all concerned deal with these critical situations will have a significant impact on Mumbai’s weather over the next few months.

Pandya has not played any competitive cricket since the third week of October, when he injured his ankle during a World Cup game against Bangladesh in Pune. His only appearance was for his employers in the DY Patil T20 tournament in Mumbai. By his own admission, he has been fit to bowl since January and hence will fulfill his duties as the team’s star all-rounder, but what will be more interesting is how he keeps Rohit with him.

On Monday, Pandya was gushing about his relationship with Rohit, saying that he has to have a ‘big man’s hand on my shoulder’. In fact this couldn’t be further from the truth. For all the anger he may generate – perhaps he doesn’t at all? – Rohit has shown himself to be a true team man and it is difficult to see him deviating from that natural trait.

Their complaints, if any, will not be directed at Pandya. If the franchise was chasing the prodigal son and intended to re-acquire his services before the next big auction, then Pandya was completely within his rights to insist that a return to his parent franchise be accompanied by captaincy. Must be with suffix. After all, Pandya has not only been a successful IPL captain, he has also led India with aplomb in white-ball cricket and would probably have been the frontrunner for the job heading into this summer’s T20 World Cup had he not suffered an ankle injury . injury in October

Rohit’s disappointment may have been due to him being almost unilaterally relieved of responsibility, given that more than a decade ago, he took over a struggling team mid-season in 2013, and masterminded an encouraging revival that Gave him his first title.

This was the first of five glorious campaigns in which Rohit’s mark of leadership, authority, tactical skill and exceptional man-management was evident. The ease with which the various pieces of the puzzle fell into place was no accidental development. Apart from spearheading the title run, Rohit has also played a crucial role in uncovering and nurturing special talents, not least Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya themselves. If he thinks he deserves better than a mere token ‘thank you’, who can really blame him?


However, from the franchise’s perspective, this change was inevitable. True, this could have been handled with more sensitivity given Rohit’s pedigree, stature and reputation, but in the franchise/club game, there has rarely been room for sentimentality. Rohit will turn 37 in six weeks, Pandya will turn 30, he clearly has a lot more cricket in him if he can avoid the various injuries that have haunted him over the years. Along with the game, the IPL is also about brand-building and in Pandya, MI see an ideal medium on which to take their charge for the immediate future.

From a cricket and marketing point of view, his logic is impeccable. However, often the method of implementation leaves much to be desired.
There are no quips to bury, no conspiracy theories to address. The developments of the last three months are unlikely to cause a rift between the Indian captain and the new MI leader, which is important considering how interdependent the pair will be for the country and the franchise.

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