Mumbai Indians head coach Mark Boucher said the decision of taking the captaincy away from Rohit Sharma and handing it over to Hardik Pandya was “purely a cricketing decision” and doesn’t want the people to get too emotional about it.
The ace all-rounder was traded from Gujarat Titans in November last year and was given the captaincy in December. It brought an end to Rohit's superb 11-season captaincy tenure.
Under his captaincy, Mumbai won five titles - 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020. Rohit is the only captain apart from MS Dhoni to win five IPL titles. Overall, Mumbai played 158 games under him, winning 89 and losing 69 encounters.
“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,” Boucher said on Smash Sports podcast.
“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.”
“I mean one of the things I have spoken about is when you arrive at the IPL and he (Chris Morris) will be able to tell you as well that there’s a lot of stuff going on, there’s photoshoots and this and that and a lot of emphasis is not actually on the cricket. It’s more about the advertising and all that sort of stuff.”
Mumbai are one of the most successful teams in the history of franchise cricket but haven't done well since winning the title in 2020. They couldn't even qualify for the playoffs in 2021 and 2022, and then lost the Qualifier 2 in 2023.
Rohit’s own form with the bat has been terrible. In the last two seasons, the opener has managed only 600 runs in 30 innings at an average of 20 and a strike rate of 126.8. He has just two 50-plus scores in this period.
“One thing I did pick up with Ro 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,” said Boucher.
“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.”
Pandya made his IPL debut for Mumbai in 2015 and went on to play 92 games for the franchise before moving to Gujarat in 2022. Under his leadership, GT won the title in their very first year. They also finished runners-up in 2023, losing to Chennai Super Kings in the finale.
“He is a Mumbai Indians boy. He went to other franchise, won the title in first year, ended up runner-up in his second year. So there’s obviously some very good leadership skills as well,” added Boucher.
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