After leading Mumbai Indians for 10 seasons, Rohit Sharma was replaced by Hardik Pandya as the captain of the franchise ahead of IPL 2024 season.
Five-time Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 champions Mumbai Indians dropped a bomb on the entire cricketing universe as they announced the decision to replace skipper Rohit Sharma with Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder arrived from Gujarat Titans as part of a trade after MI decided to send Cameron Green to Royal Challengers Bangalore. But, little did fans know that the trade from GT wasn't in the capacity of a player but also a 'captain'. But, what led to this change in the leadership role?
Rohit Sharma, a man who led Mumbai Indians to 5 IPL titles in 10 years, was replaced by Hardik Pandya, a player who led Gujarat Titans to two consecutive IPL finals, winning one of them. The move hints a big change in Rohit's situation, considering his role as India's captain in white-ball teams is also under question since the conclusion of Cricket World Cup 2023.
We take a look at the factors that might have prompted Mumbai Indians to make the change:
Rohit Sharma's Form:
While Rohit had an impressive Cricket World Cup, his form for MI over the last couple of years wasn't the best. In IPL 2022 season, he scored 268 runs in 14 games at an average of 19.14 while in the 2023 season saw him scoring 332 runs in 16 matches at an average of 20.75.
While it can't be said that captaincy was taking a toll on Rohit's performance, MI did not to make a big change if they are to challenge for the title again, while also paving the way for the future.
IPL 2025 Mega Auction:
With just one season to go before the IPL 2025 mega auction gets underway, Mumbai Indians had to lay out plans for the future. Before the last mega auction, the BCCI allowed franchises to retain a maximum of three Indian and 2 overseas players. The complex situation saw them release Hardik but the franchise doesn't want to repeat the same mistakes this time.
In all likeliness, MI's Indian retentions would be Suryakumar Yadav (World No. T20I batter), Jasprit Bumrah (arguably the best T20 bowler in the world) and skipper Hardik Pandya. While the exact rules for the IPL 2025 auction aren't known yet, Rohit looks like a big candidate to be released if only three Indians are allowed to be retained.
With Rohit Sharma 36 and still a capable batter, Mumbai Indians want to make the captaincy change at a time where the Hitman can oversee the transition and help Hardik become an even better leader. By making a captaincy change early, MI are reducing the risk of finding late solutions to the problem in a scenario where Rohit might no longer be with the team.