Mark Boucher, Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma
Mark Boucher, Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma [PC: X/Twitter]

Five-time Indian Premier League champions Mumbai Indians executed a whopping deal with Gujarat Titans, bringing back all-rounder Hardik Pandya for INR 15 crore. Pandya was released by MI ahead of the IPL 2022 mega auction and was picked up by Titans. Pandya proved to be successful with both bat and bowl for the Titans and also led them to the title in the debut season. GT also qualified for the finals of the IPL 2023.

While Rohit Sharma has led Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles, he was replaced as the captain of the franchise by Hardik Pandya. As soon as Pandya replaced Rohit as the skipper of the side, there were speculations of conflict between the two players. However, now MI head coach Mark Boucher has opened up on the decision.

Speaking on the Smash Sports podcast Mark Boucher revealed that it was a purely cricketing decision. Boucher stated that according to him, the current era of the team is the transition phase. Boucher said that it was a cricketing decision and it would bring the best out of Rohit as a player and a person and it is time for him to go out and score some runs.

Mark Boucher opens up on Hardik Pandya’s appointment as MI captain

He said, “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.”

Rohit Sharma is the second most successful captain in the history of the Indian Premier League and has won a total of 87 matches from 158 games. His win percentage has been 56.32. However, the last three seasons of the IPL have not been that brilliant for Rohit as the captain of MI. Mumbai Indians failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2021 and 2022, whereas, they lost in the Qualifier 2 of the tournament in 2023. MI won two back-to-back seasons of IPL in 2019 and 2020, and currently, they are the joint most successful along with Chennai Super Kings.

“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,” he added.

“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. He is still going to captain India so that hype’s gonna 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.”

Rohit Sharma has also been a brilliant leader for the Indian cricket team wherein the side has done well in the bilaterals. Under Rohit, India qualified for the semi-final of the T20 World Cup the finals of the ODI World Cup 2023, and the World Test Championship.

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Rohit Sharma was brilliant with the bat during the ODI World Cup 2023 and scored runs with an attacking mindset. Rohit was the second-highest run scorer of the tournament, scoring 597 runs from 16 games including 1 hundred against Afghanistan. However, India were not able to win the title despite being dominant in the tournament for 10 consecutive games.

However, it will be interesting to witness, how will Hardik Pandya perform as the captain of the Mumbai Indians.