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AB de Villiers unfiltered on Hardik Pandya’s ‘ego-driven’ MI captaincy, explains why it won’t work with Rohit, Bumrah

Hardik Pandya endured a tough outing in IPL 2024, as his Mumbai Indians side became the first to get knocked out of the playoffs race earlier this week.

It has been a tough IPL 2024 season for Mumbai Indians and their captain, Hardik Pandya. MI entered the edition on the backdrop of significant controversy, with Hardik replacing five-time title-winning skipper Rohit Sharma as the franchise’s new captain; the decision was met with criticism from its own fans, and things didn’t change when the season began. Hardik was booed by MI’s own fans at the Wankhede Stadium, and reports of dressing room disquiet do the rounds to this day.

Mumbai Indians’ captain Hardik Pandya gestures during an Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match(AFP)

It doesn’t help the all-rounder that his form has been poor, too; in 13 matches in the season, Hardik has failed to score a single half-century and only crossed the 200-run mark in the side’s last match against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday. With the ball, he has 11 wickets to his name, highlighting a severely under-par performance from an all-rounder of his calibre. 

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Many of the leading names, including Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, and Suryakumar Yadav, also endured an underwhelming season with the bat, and MI became the first team to get eliminated from the race for playoffs earlier this week.

As MI slumped to another defeat – their ninth of the season – against KKR in Kolkata, AB de Villiers spoke about Hardik Pandya’s captaincy at the franchise so far. The former South African batter believed that Hardik’s leadership style wasn’t “always genuine.”

“The captaincy style of Hardik Pandya is quite bravado. It’s ego-driven in a way, chest out,” De Villiers said on his YouTube channel.

“I don’t think how he walks on the field is always genuine, but he has decided that is his way of captaincy. Almost like MS (Dhoni). Cool, calm, collective, always got your chest out.”

Won’t work around experienced players

Explaining his point in further detail, AB de Villiers cited an example of his experience playing under Graeme Smith. The former South African opener led a fairly young team for many years, leading them to significant success during his tenure; de Villiers was a youngster when he joined the Smith-led Proteas side.

“When you play with a lot of experienced players, guys who have been around for ages, they don’t buy into that. It worked at GT, where it was a younger team. Sometimes, inexperienced players love to follow that kind of leadership.

“I remember Graeme Smith. He was out there for the team. All I needed to do as a youngster was to follow. Now, there’s a Rohit (Sharma), there’s a (Jasprit) Bumrah. They go like, ‘All we need you to be is calm. Give us a bit of input on how to win matches. We don’t need the bravado’.  I’m not having a go at Hardik. I love watching him play. I love him putting out his chest because I was like that. I believed that as a batter, sometimes, you’ve got to fake it to make it,” he concluded.

Mumbai Indians will play for pride when they face Lucknow Super Giants in their final match of the season on May 17.



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