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Emotional decision to change captain, but Rohit will be part of Mumbai Indians' legacy: Jayawardene

Mumbai: Mahela Jayawardene, Mumbai Indians’ Global Head of Cricket, admitted that replacing Rohit Sharma with Hardik Pandya as the team’s captain was a tough decision but termed it a necessary call with future in mind.

Pandya’s return to Mumbai Indians (MI) as captain had evoked sharp responses from the teams’ fan base, but Jayawardene asserted that Rohit will remain an integral part of the team.

“It was a tough decision. It was emotional, to be honest. It’s fair on the fans as well (to react). I think everyone is emotional and we have to respect that as well. But at the same time, as a franchise, you have to make those decisions,” Jayawardene told JIO Cinema.

The former Sri Lanka captain said the decision was made after meaningful conversations.

“The legacy is something we want to build on and make sure we keep fighting for those wins, those trophies. That’s the focus going ahead,” he stated.

“Probably, everyone in their eyes will think it is too soon, but it is a decision we had to make at some point,” Jayawardene added.

Jayawardene said Pandya fitted well into Mumbai’s leadership environment.

“Hardik (Pandya) has been in the dressing room for quite some time, so that’s nothing new. We know what he brings in as an all-rounder,” he said.

“It will be something different with his experience of leading the team at Gujarat, so, it is an opportunity to build on that,” he explained.

However, Jayawardene said stripping of captaincy will not have any effect on Rohit’s place in the MI establishment.

“Having Rohit in the team, on and off the field to guide the next generation is very important for us. He has been absolutely brilliant. I have worked very closely with him. I am sure he will be part of the legacy who will guide that through,” said Jayawardene.

He cited the example of Sachin Tendulkar, who gave away MI captaincy to play as a senior batter and mentor the younger players of the side to validate his point.

“Sachin played with the youngsters. He gave the leadership to someone else and made sure Mumbai Indians was going in the right direction. It’s the same thing. We had this conversation and everyone is buying into that. It’s for us to look forward to the next season,” he concluded.

(Published 20 December 2023, 10:05 IST)

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