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Hardik will bring fresh thinking in MI, Rohit's contribution with bat has gone down: Gavaskar

New Delhi: Legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar reckons that Hardik Pandya, as the new leader, will bring in “fresh thinking” in the Mumbai Indians camp as Rohit Sharma appeared fatigued and has not contributed enough with the bat in the last few years.

The India T20 skipper was traded to Mumbai Indians ahead of the 2024 IPL auction, scheduled to take place in Dubai on Tuesday.

Rohit and Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni are the most successful captains in the IPL, guiding their teams to five titles each in the lucrative league.

However, Mumbai Indians have gone without a title since 2021, finishing last in the 2022 edition.

Gavaskar said that it could be because Rohit is “fatigued” since he has been playing continuously not only as IPL team skipper but also as the India captain.

“See, we don’t have to look at it (decision appoint Hardik as MI captain) as right or wrong. The decision they (MI) have taken has been for the benefit of the team. We can say that the contribution of Rohit, even with the bat, has become slightly lesser,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.

“Earlier, there used to be a lot of contribution (with bat) from Rohit, but in the last few years, they have finished at number 9 or 10. And last year they qualified for the playoffs, but the ‘josh’ (enthusiasm) of Mumbai Indians was not there to be seen as we have seen in the past.”

“Maybe because he has played cricket continuously he must have been fatigued, constantly captaining the Indian side and then Mumbai Indians,” added Gavaskar.

Hardik, after leading Gujarat Titans to title triumph in the team’s inaugural year in 2022 also led his side to runners-up finish this year.

The cricketer-turned-commentator felt Hardik has proved himself for the Gujarat franchise and his return to Mumbai Indians will infuse fresh ideas into the side.

“So, the decision that they have taken, he is a young player, young in terms of captaining a side, who has proven himself, taking Gujarat Titans to the finals twice and winning it once.”

“So with the same thought process, they have made him captain. Because sometimes you need that fresh thinking, and he can bring that fresh thinking and I think the decision that has been taken, Mumbai Indians can benefit from it and won’t damage them,” he added.

Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan said the biggest challenge for Hardik at Mumbai Indians would be to manage senior players like Rohit, Suryakumar Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah, all of whom are leaders themselves.

“Now that this decision about Hardik Pandya has been taken, I think Suryakumar Yadav was involved in this discussion, Bumrah was in it as well, so for Hardik Pandya, the biggest challenge will be with all these people, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, who are leaders themselves, they have been captains of the Indian team in the past.”

“Hardik will have to learn to manage these guys and it will be his biggest challenge. And this won’t be easy for him,” said Pathan.

He compared Rohit’s stature with that of Dhoni, saying the stalwart had built the Mumbai franchise with his hard work and commitment.

“The stature that Rohit Sharma has in Mumbai Indians, I think it can be compared to the stature that Dhoni has in CSK. He has made this team with his own hard work and dedication through his captaincy.”

“He’s a great captain who has carried this team for years and last year, with the team they had, many people thought they could qualify for the playoffs. They qualified, even though they didn’t have (pacer) Jofra Archer and their bowling was light.”

“Even their form wasn’t good. They didn’t have the facilities of Bumrah who was recovering from injury,” said Pathan.

(Published 18 December 2023, 13:39 IST)

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