Hardik Pandya replaces Rohit Sharma as Mumbai Indians skipper | Crickit
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Hardik Pandya replaces Rohit Sharma as Mumbai Indians skipper

Dec 15, 2023 11:15 PM IST

Rohit Sharma captained MI from 2013 to 2023 and won five IPL titles

Rohit Sharma’s glorious reign as Mumbai Indians captain came to an end on Friday after the franchise named Hardik Pandya as skipper for next season with an eye on the future. Following a brilliant two-year captaincy stint with Gujarat Titans, the 30-year-old Pandya returned to Mumbai Indians last month following one of IPL’s most high-profile trades.

It now remains to be seen whether the change in leadership at MI will have a bearing on the Indian T20 team as well(MI )
It now remains to be seen whether the change in leadership at MI will have a bearing on the Indian T20 team as well(MI )

“In a significant leadership transition for the upcoming 2024 season, renowned all-rounder Hardik Pandya is set to take the helm as the captain of the Mumbai Indians, succeeding one of the most successful and loved captains, the illustrious Rohit Sharma,” MI said in a statement.

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It now remains to be seen whether the change in leadership at MI will have a bearing on the Indian T20 team as well. Rohit and Virat Kohli have not played for India in the T20 format since the semi-final exit at the World Cup in Australia last year. When available, Pandya has been captaining India in T20Is since then. However, Rohit’s scintillating batting displays and his fine captaincy in the recent ODI World Cup at home have brought him back in reckoning for the T20 World Cup in June 2024. The national selectors will be keenly watching his IPL form and purely for that, the upcoming edition could be crucial for Rohit if he harbours hopes of giving himself another shot at the ‘ultimate prize’.

It is not easy for high-profile players to adjust to a demotion in the team ranks. But players are quickly understanding the ruthless dynamics of the IPL ecosystem. Though their captaincy records can't be compared, Kohli had a similarly long tenure as RCB captain before being replaced. He has done well since and adjusted as a player. He had a blockbuster 2023 season scoring 639 runs (average 53.25).

Rohit, 36, still has a couple of years of quality cricket left in him. It is understood that if he decides to move on from MI, there are franchises keen to have him on board as captain.

Pandya began his career at MI. The franchise’s talent scouts spotted him out of nowhere and got him into the squad in 2015. From then on, there was no looking back for the all-rounder who made an immediate impression with his wristy strokeplay. He played a key part during a highly successful period for the franchise.

After the 2021 season, MI released Pandya following a lacklustre campaign in which he averaged 14.11 in 11 innings at a strike rate of 113.39. He was then drafted in by the new Ahmedabad franchise, Gujarat Titans, and named captain of the team. It proved to be a wondrous move for both the player and the team. He led GT to the title on their IPL debut in 2022 and to a runners-up finish earlier this year. In 30 matches as captain, Pandya led GT to 21 wins and scored 833 runs (average 37.86) at a strike rate of 133.49. For MI, his overall record stands at 1476 runs in 85 innings at a strike rate of 153.91.

Commenting on the leadership change, Mahela Jayawardene, MI’s Global Head of Performance, said: “It is part of legacy building and staying true to the MI philosophy of being future-ready. Mumbai Indians have always been blessed with exceptional leadership right from Sachin (Tendulkar) to Harbhajan (Singh) and Ricky (Ponting) to Rohit, who while contributing to the immediate success have always had an eye on strengthening the team for the future. It is in keeping with this philosophy that Hardik Pandya will assume captaincy of Mumbai Indians for IPL 2024."

Rohit captained MI from 2013 till 2023, and all their five IPL titles came under his leadership. Terming Rohit’s captaincy tenure as extraordinary, Jayawardene stated he will continue to play for MI. “We express our gratitude to Rohit for his exceptional leadership; his tenure as the captain of the Mumbai Indians since 2013 has been nothing short of extraordinary. His leadership has not only brought unparalleled success to the team but has also solidified his place as one of the finest captains in the history of IPL. Under his guidance, MI became one of the most successful and loved teams ever. We will look forward to his (Rohit’s) guidance and experience on and off the field to further strengthen MI,” said Jayawardene.

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