The core of Rohit and Hardik’s leadership switch

The great batter attended the yearly event at Dhirubhai Ambani School in the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai on the day when the Mumbai Indians took over as captain from Rohit Sharma. He delayed his trip to South Africa in order to attend the function hosted by the school run by the people who own his IPL team. It could indicate that Rohit isn’t precisely pouting, if nothing else.

This is not to imply that he is overjoyed that Hardik Pandya has taken over for him as team captain after he led them to five Indian Premier League (IPL) championships during his ten years in charge. It is acknowledged, meanwhile, that Rohit has been informed of the rationale and need of the leadership transition. It was explained to him that a change of leadership is necessary.

The MI management, who are well-known for having a strong enthusiasm for their IPL team, wanted to make sure that the changeover went well. Since Rohit, who is presently 36 years old, is still playing, there is no better moment to give the reins to a new player. Following the IPL 2023, in which the five-time winners placed fourth after barely making the playoffs, the planning had begun in June of last year. The team’s 2022 finish at the bottom was not commensurate with the talent available to the franchise.

It was obvious that throughout his final two years as captain, Rohit had not been playing at his peak, and his bat was not exactly blazing away. MI made it plain that they intended to look ahead over the next five years and that they would choose who was the greatest option right now. The issue was that a deal for Pandya was still pending when the team began talking about making adjustments. According to people in the know, there was no certainty at that point that the Gujarat Titans would accept a deal.

As soon as things got going, attempts were made to persuade Rohit that the captaincy ought to be passed over. After the World Cup final on November 19, serious talks began, and Rohit, while being abroad, was being spoken with on a daily basis. Although there were strong rumours that the Titans were interested in trading Rohit for Pandya, MI was never going to allow Rohit to go.

Considering that Pandya guided the Titans to two titles and two finals in his two seasons as head coach, it is clear that he accepted the deal in the hopes of earning the captaincy. Also, Pandya’s aspirations to return as MI captain may have been reasonable given that he was being hailed as a next white-ball captain for India and had previously led the T20 team. There are also rumours that he may be named the captain of the Twenty20 World Cup in June.

What will happen to Rohit in T20 cricket now? It is certain that the national selection committee, led by Ajit Agarkar and heavily influenced by coach Rahul Dravid, will determine the course of his Twenty20 international career. There have been suggestions that he ought to be called up for the international tournament and even given the captaincy because of the way he batted during the World Cup, which included a powerplay speed appropriate for the T20 format. How well he bats in the first IPL phase in March and April will be crucial for that. There might not be any stopping him if he bats in the manner that is expected of him.

What does that mean for him going forward with the Mumbai Indians? The next year’s retention policies will determine a number of things. The BCCI has allowed the retention of no more than four players overall, with a maximum of three Indians and a maximum of two foreign players until the most recent super auction. If the same were to happen the following year, it would be evident that MI cannot let go of their newly appointed captain [Pandya], one of the finest bowlers in the world [Jasprit Bumrah], or their top T20I hitter [Suryakumar Yadav].

However, they only had ten months to prepare, and before the IPL 2025 auction, one can never be sure of the regulations. This year may or may not be Rohit’s final one at MI.

Is there any uneasiness in the MI dressing room as a result of these changes? Bumrah recently made the rather enigmatic statement that “sometimes the best answer is silence.” Suryakumar shared an emoticon depicting sadness one day after the leadership change. It’s believed that there is sincere sympathy for the departing captain, a feeling that is shared by the players and the management equally. These might even be coincidences. Before the formal announcement was made, though, it is revealed that all of the coaches and senior players were contacted.

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