About two months ago, Mumbai Indians announced Hardik Pandya as their new captain for IPL 2024, marking the end of Rohit Sharma’s legendary reign at the man in charge. As expected, the decision did not sit too well with MI’s fanbase which rallied behind Rohit and wanted him reinstated. However, public emotion aside, the decision to turn Hardik captain was made keeping in mind MI’s transition; in fact, the reason why the India all-rounder switched back to MI after leading Gujarat Titans to consecutive IPL final was because a captaincy perk was part of the deal. Hence, there was and is no way back.
For the first time since the change in guard, MI coach Mark Boucher has revealed the real reason behind the call. The former South Africa wicketkeeper batter pointed out that Hardik was appointed captain to take some load off Rohit, who hasn’t enjoyed the best of forms across the last two editions of the IPL. Rohit, already captaining India in all three formats, has been a champion IPL captain, but Boucher reckons the franchise needed to look at the bigger picture.
“I think it was purely a cricketing decision. We saw the window period to get Hardik back as a player. For me it’s a transition phase. A lot of people don’t understand in India, people get quite emotional, but you know you take the emotions away from it. I think it’s just more of a cricketing decision that was made and I do think it is going to bring the best out of Rohit as a person as a player. Just let him go out and enjoy and score some good runs,” Mark Boucher said on Smash Sports podcast.
“One thing I did pick up with Ro (Rohit) is that he is a fantastic guy. I mean he’s been captaining for ages and he’s done really well for Mumbai Indians. Now he also leads India as well. It is that he walks into a place and there’s just cameras in it and he’s so busy and he hasn’t had probably the best couple of seasons of late with the bat but he’s done well as a captain.
Rohit is the most successful IPL captain of all time. Yes, MS Dhoni may have the same number of IPL titles as Rohit – 5 – but that Rohit achieved them in fewer seasons makes him the GOAT. Having said that, the pressure of MI not winning titles like they used to every alternate years – they haven’t win since 2020 – was reflecting on Rohit’s form. IPL 2022 was his worst ever season which saw him score just 268 runs from 14 matches as MI failed to reach the Playoffs. Last year, MI did and even Rohit bettered his returns with 332 from 16 games, he was far from his free-flowing best. All these factors combined in MI taking away captaincy from their biggest franchise player.