'Rohit Sharma could be handed back captaincy from Hardik Pandya ...

15 days ago

Apr 03, 2024 06:32 AM IST

Former India batter Manoj Tiwary believes Mumbai Indians give back the captaincy to Rohit Sharma after three deflating IPL defeats under Hardik Pandya.

Mumbai Indians are in turmoil. Once again. They have never been the greatest of starters, but this year something looks oddly off. Hardik Pandya's captaincy has not gone as per plan. Be it the outcome of matches or crowd hostility – the all-rounder looks all over the place. MI have endured worse starts previously – in 2015, they lost their first four games of the season but went on to win the title and the year before reached the Playoffs after losing the first six in a row. But that was when Rohit Sharma was captain. With Hardik Pandya in charge, and no support from the crowd whatsoever, MI have a long and arduous road ahead.

Hardik Pandya - Figure 1
Photo Hindustan Times
The captaincy debate between Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya rages on. (ANI)

Having suffered a hat-trick of defeats, MI now have a six-day gap before their next game against Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the Wankhede on April 7. But between now and then, Manoj Tiwary expects the franchise to make a tough call – which is to re-appoint Rohit as their captain. The former India batter's prediction stems from his belief that Hardik clearly looks under the pump. He may be smiling and all but the fact that he did not bowl at all against Rajasthan Royals, is an indication that it's all on the outside.

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After Hardik returned to MI last year, on December 15, the franchise dropped a bomb informing that Rohit is no longer captain. Tiwary, who himself had experienced something similar when he was replaced by Abhimanyu Easwaran as captain of the Bengal Ranji team in 2019, reckons switching a captain of Rohit's calibre and proven track record, comes with its own implications.

"It's a clue that Hardik is under pressure. If he is not bowling having bowled in the first 2 games, and in conditions where there was swing on offer in both first and second innings, I think he felt the pressure with the kind of reception he received. I want to say something big. I have this feeling that during this break, Rohit Sharma could be given back the captaincy from Hardik Pandya," Tiwary said on Cricbuzz.

"It can happen. It's a big call because whatever little I understand these franchises and owners, they don't hesitate in taking calls. They had started it when they took the captaincy from Rohit and gave it to Hardik. Now it's pretty big when you change a captain who has won you five titles. And now that they haven't won a single game and the captaincy also looks jaded. Mistakes are happening."

Hardik Pandya - Figure 2
Photo Hindustan Times

In 2022, Chennai Super Kings had gone down the same path. After appointing Ravindra Jadeja as captain ahead of the season, MS Dhoni was put back in charge following five consecutive defeats.

Hardik's captaincy average: Tiwary

Another reason Tiwary pointed out, that could lead to Hardik's ouster as captain is his muddled decision-making. MI's chase fell off track in the first game against Gujarat Titans, and although they gave Sunrisers Hyderabad a tough fight in Hyderabad, there were certain decisions that were frowned upon. Hardik opening the bowling and kept his best bowler Jasprit Bumrah – who had taken 3/14 against GT – for late was one such dubious call. Add to that the repeated shuffling of their middle order batters, and the environment within the team, which Tiwary isn't too confident about.

"In the last match, SRH scored 277, but look at the changes is bowling. Shams Mulani came to bowl the last over, Bumrah was brought in the 13th over, there is no stability in the batting order. No one has a permanent slot. Sometimes Tilak Varma goes to bat higher, sometimes Dewald Brevis. Romario comes in and someone else goes out. It's very average captaincy so I feel this call needs to be taken, purely based on a cricketing aspect. The atmosphere doesn't look right either," added Tiwary.

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