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‘Hardik Pandya’s appointment as captain would have shocked Rohit Sharma’: Mumbai Indians’ IPL captaincy saga intensifies

How must Rohit Sharma have reacted to the news of Hardik Pandya replacing him as Mumbai Indians captain in IPL 2024. Find out.

For the first time in 11 years, Mumbai Indians will not be captained by Rohit Sharma. As different as the sight may be when Hardik Pandya leads the team out when it takes on Gujarat Titans in their IPL 2024 opener, it is the beginning of a new era. Between 2013 and 2021, MI won the IPL five times, claiming a title every alternate year, and then again in 2020. But the last three seasons – and there’s no sugar-coating it – have been abject. Chennai Super Kings have not only closed the gap but also tied MI as the two most successful IPL franchises. And hence, with plenty of fresh faces coming in, perhaps the management felt that Hardik is the man to lead this team into the future.

Hardik Pandya (L) and Rohit Sharma during last year’s IPL. (ANI)

A lot has been spoken about this change in leadership. It’s clear that MI fans don’t even remotely buy the idea of seeing Hardik replacing Rohit as captain. But the decision has been made. While it is believed that Rohit must have been kept in the loop, Harbhajan Singh believes the contrary. In fact, the former India spinner is confident that the news of Hardik being appointed as captain for IPL 2024 would have at least shocked Rohit if nothing else.

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“I hope it’s for the betterment of the Mumbai Indians going forward. You know, Rohit has been a true leader and a champion player for Mumbai Indians and India as well. Knowing him, after winning so many trophies for MI and done so well at the international level, it must have come as a shock to him to suddenly not be part of the leadership group,” Harbhajan said on the IPL Daily Show on Star Sports.

“I’m sure he is going to be involved in some way or the other but we have seen Rohit growing as a player and captain and winning those five trophies. That speaks volumes about his captaincy. I don’t know; the management has taken the decision and I hope everyone takes it in the right spirit and Mumbai Indians plays like a champion side.”

Hardik has grown as a leader: Harbhajan

As for Hardik, this marks a homecoming for the all-rounder, who began his career with the Mumbai Indians back in 2015. For two seasons he wasn’t with them, Hardik captained Gujarat Titans in two very successful seasons – winners in 2022 and runner-up in 2023 – and only built on his captaincy resume. In fact, the 2022 season was so rewarding that with Rohit stepping away from India’s T20I set-up to concentrate on the ODI for the World Cup, Hardik, on the high of an IPL win, captained India in the shortest format for 10 months… until Rohit came back against Afghanistan.

So although Pandya may have never led MI, Harbhajan reckons the India all-rounder has what it takes to not only put on the captaincy hat but even excel at it. “He is someone who thrives on challenges; he has done well for GT, winning the title in the first year and runners-up the next. This goes to show that he is a leader; he is now very quiet; operates well. So I feel that he has got all the qualities of a leader,” added the former MI star.


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