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Why Mumbai Indians Turn to Hardik Pandya in IPL 2024

April 20, 2024

Four months have passed since Mumbai Indians made the official announcement of replacing Hardik Pandya with Rohit Sharma as their captain. An auction took place about a week later and now we are halfway through the league stage of IPL 2024. But the “Why did Mumbai Indians replace Rohit Sharma with Hardik Pandya?” question is still looking for answers among MI loyalists. You can’t really fault them, can you? Rohit, after all is the first captain to win five IPL titles. He is the highest run-scorer of the franchise by some distance and is largely the face of their turnaround in the IPL after five disappointing seasons since its inception in 2008.

Then what was the need? Rohit was still going strong. He is still the Indian captain in all formats. Then why? Even as MI fans try to find an answer to that difficult question, former India cricketer Robin Uthappa has come up with an explanation. Uthappa said there are three perspectives one should judge to understand the entire situation. The first is of the franchise – MI. The second is of Hardik Pandya, the new captain and the third is that of Rohit Sharma, the former skipper.

Uthappa said MI had appointed Rohit as their captain in the middle of the 2013 season, removing Australia legend Ricky Ponting. That decision was accepted with open arms by the seniors of the team and also the fans.

“Hardik Pandya is their discovery. They did it through their scouting methods. So they are essentially looking at a pure Mumbai Indians boy. When captaincy was given to Rohit Sharma it was taken from Ricky Ponting in the middle of the season. This is the same franchise. All the senior guys Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, and Ricky Ponting supported Rohit,” Uthappa said in the TRS podcast.

Rohit’s form as batter and captain was not good, MI had to look for other options

Uthappa said that statistically, Rohit was not having a good time with the bat in the last three or four years and because MI haven’t won a title since 2020. They had to think of a change.

In the last four years, statistically… I’m never gonna question the calibre and the gloriousness of Rohit Sharma the batter. But look at it from a franchise perspective. They won in 2020. They didn’t win in the last three years. And the last three years, Rohit scored less than 300 runs (only once). So there’s a lack of success as a batter, a lack of success as a captain. In just the IPL cause everywhere else, he has scored runs,” Uthappa added.

Rohit has not had a 400-plus IPL season since 2019. He had the worst season of his IPL career in 2022 where he scored only 268 runs at an average of 19 and a strike rate of 120. MI finished at the bottom of the points table for the first time in the history of IPL with only two wins in 14 matches Next year, they did make it to the playoffs but Rohit’s performance with the bat was still not up to his standards. He managed 332 runs at a strike rate of 132.

Uthappa said MI may have made up their minds to look at other options at the end of last year’s IPL but the narrative may have changed in the minds of the fans after the kind of success the opener achieved in the ODI World Cup both as captain and as a batter.

“So there is a reason MI landed on this consensus that maybe we have to look beyond Rohit. Maybe this conversation came about at the end of the last season. They may have conversations in different directions. Then Rohit Sharmna’s success at the ODI World Cup came through. His greatness as a player and leader was there for everyone to see.

“The narrative was thrown up in the air but was yet to land but for Mumbai Indians it landed last year itself, perhaps. From their perspective, they felt they were right. If you look at how they operated before, to how they are operating now, it’s the same. They have been consistent, so how can you fault them?”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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