Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya made a return to his former side Mumbai Indians last year and was also made the captain by Mumbai-based franchise for the next edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Pandya will take over from Rohit Sharma who led Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles. The sensational change in captaincy did surprise many and now Mumbai Indians head coach Mark Boucher has explained the reason behind the move. The former South Africa cricketer stated that it was a purely cricketing decision.
“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,” Mark Boucher said on Smash Sports podcast.
Rohit only managed 268 at a strike rate of 120.18 in IPL 2022 and scored 332 runs at 132.80 in 2023.
“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.
“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 going 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,” Boucher said
The change in Mumbai Indians captaincy took place just less than a month after the side decided to bring back Pandya to the team. As the captain of the Gujarat Titans franchise, Pandya won the IPL title and secured a runners-up finish in back-to-back two seasons.
Meanwhile, Rohit led Mumbai Indians in 163 matches in the IPL and the Champions League T20. Under his captaincy, Mumbai Indians claimed 91 victories across all competitions. Rohit also led Mumbai Indians to five IPL finals and emerged victorious all five times. Rohit is the joint-most successful skipper, along with MS Dhoni, in the history of IPL with five titles under his belt.