T20 World Cup 2024: 'Hardik Pandya wouldn't be in India squad if Rohit Sharma...': Michael Clarke lifts the rift

Updated - 11 May 2024, 11:08 AM

Michael Clarke, Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma
Michael Clarke, Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma. Image Credit: Getty Images/BCCI-IPL

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke weighed in on the ongoing speculation surrounding the relationship between Mumbai Indians (MI) Hardik Pandya and Indian skipper Rohit Sharma over the change in captaincy of the five-time IPL champions.

Mumbai Indians (MI), under new captain Hardik, had a dismal IPL 2024 campaign, becoming the first team to be eliminated from the playoff race. Despite being one of the most successful franchises in the IPL, their campaign never gained momentum, thanks to their internal issues, including reports of tension between Hardik and former MI skipper Rohit.

MI fans booed Hardik for snatching captaincy from Rohit during the early matches in the ongoing IPL 2024, and even the current skipper never got the support of the supporters. There are several reports of bad blood between Rohit and Hardik, but Clarke has a different take on the same.

Michale Clarke shares views on the Rohit Sharma-Hardik Pandya rift

Clarke believes that the tension between the two Indian stars might not be as severe as alleged by the fans and media. His assessment comes in light of Hardik's inclusion in India's T20I World Cup squad, a decision Clarke believes underscores Rohit's influence in team selection.

However, the Aussie admitted that there may be underlying issues between Hardik and Rohit, but asserted that if the rift between them were as significant as speculated, Hardik would not have been included in India’s squad for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2024, as the Indian captain has that much power to select a player.

Michael Clarke said on Around the Wicket podcast: “You know what… knowing Rohit Sharma, he will wrap his arms around Hardik Pandya. That shows the character that Rohit is. He is the Indian captain and trust me… he wants to win that World Cup."

"He has had a lot of say in the 15 that is picked by India. It's very different to let's say the Australian 15. They are heavily focused on spin bowling. If the beef between Rohit and Hardik was as strong as people think, Hardik wouldn't be in that World Cup campaign. The Indian captain has that much power.”

Michael Clarke optimistic about Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya's friendship

Clarke further shared his views on Rohit’s removal as the MI captain in the IPL. Despite acknowledging the potential issues surrounding Rohit's removal, Clarke believes that it won't affect the friendship between Rohit and Hardik or the Indian skipper’s selection in the Indian cricket team.

The former Australian skipper also stressed that Hardik needs to step up his game, given his performance in the first half of the ongoing IPL 2024. Clarke further emphasized that Rohit understands Hardik's significance for the Indian cricket team, and he will ensure that the star all-rounder remains focused on improving his performance ahead of the T20 World Cup in 2024.

As Pandya's recent performance with both bat and ball hasn't been impressive, Clarke pointed out that the Indian all-rounder has the potential to excel when playing for his country.

He also said that Pandya's determination to bounce back is likely fuelled by his shortened 2023 ODI World Cup campaign due to injury, and he is expected to be highly motivated to make a significant impact in the upcoming mega event in the USA and Caribbean.

Tagged:

Michael Clarke Rohit Sharma Hardik Pandya India National Cricket Team ICC T20 World Cup 2024 IPL Mumbai Indians