Bringing back Hardik Pandya and removing the captaincy from Rohit Sharma, a decision by Mumbai Indians that faced heavy fan criticism, was deemed by coach Mark Boucher as purely cricket-oriented.

In a surprising turn of events in the Indian Premier League’s history, Mumbai Indians made a significant move by re-acquiring Hardik Pandya, a championship-winning captain for Gujarat Titans. This came two years after they had chosen to let him go in the auctions. Further stirring intrigue, MI management decided to replace Rohit Sharma, who guided the team to 5 IPL victories, as skipper.

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Despite facing substantial backlash from their fanbase on social media regarding this leadership transition, head coach Mark Boucher, while speaking on the Smash Sports podcast, clarified that it was purely a ‘cricketing decision’.

“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.

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Boucher also emphasized Mumbai Indians’ plan to relieve Rohit of captaincy pressures due to his recent modest batting performances. Despite his successful captaincy for Mumbai Indians and Team India, the team noticed Rohit’s busy schedule and media attention, recognizing his slightly subdued form with the bat. Boucher expressed that they want Rohit to relish playing as a team member without the added burden of captaincy, believing he can still contribute significantly.

“And I just thought you know when we’re speaking with the whole Mumbai Indians group, we thought that maybe this is the opportunity for him to step as a player. We believe he got some great value to add and just go out there and actually enjoy it without the hype of being a captain,” the coach said

“He is still going to captain India so that hype’s going be there but when he steps into the IPL maybe just taking that extra bit of pressure off him as a captain an maybe we get the best out of Rohit Sharma. We want to see him playing with a smile on his face, spending a bit of time with his beautiful family,” he added.

Boucher also commended Hardik for his immediate influence. Chosen by Gujarat Titans prior to the 2022 season, he led them to victory that year and secured runner-up in 2023. Boucher highlighted Hardik’s impressive leadership qualities showcased through these achievements.



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Last Updated on February 6, 2024

Senior Sports Copywriter