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Down & Out: What went wrong for Hardik Pandya & Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024?

Down & Out: What went wrong for Hardik Pandya & Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024?

The captaincy change has not gone as per plan for Mumbai Indians as Hardik Pandya-led side is out of IPL 2024 Playoff Race amid rumours of rift in the team.

Mumbai Indians have become the first team to be knocked out IPL 2024 Playoff Race. But this should not come as a surprise. Every change in leadership leads to a transition period. While Rohit Sharma was an instant hit with support from his seniors back in 2013, Hardik Pandya has found it difficult. As a result, MI have only 4 wins out of 12 matches. But transition isn’t the only reason. Let’s discuss.

Poor timing of captaincy change

Mumbai Indians needed a change in guard at some point after failing to win the title in the last two seasons. But it was done in haste without giving much thought to how the change could negatively impact on-field performance.

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With IPL 2025 set for a mega auction, MI could have tried to hold it off and make the transition. Rohit Sharma, already 37, surely would not have disagreed with a change. But as the entire nation celebrated Rohit’s leadership in the World Cup, MI removed the same captain, who has a cult-like following.

Hardik Pandya who abandoned the ship three years ago returned to his first IPL franchise after a stunning trade deal. But rumours circulated that Hardik had a captaincy clause in his contract after his transfer from Gujarat Titans, where he won the title as a captain.

Mumbai Indians in IPL

  • 9th: IPL 2024
  • 4th: IPL 2023 (Lost in Qualifier 2)
  • 10th: IPL 2022
  • 5th: IPL 2021
  • Champion: IPL 2020

Failure to control narrative

Every team undergoes a transition after a leadership change. But Mumbai Indians completely failed in protecting their captain from abuses from their own fanbase.

MI did not even constructively address the fans. Instead, head coach Mark Boucher’s loose comment on a podcast added fuel to the fire. Silence on the subject could have been better if MI management decided not to address the issue.

Rohit’s wife Ritika Sajdeh, who is also his manager, added fuel to the fire when she lashed out at Boucher’s comment on social media.

Senior players to be blamed?

While the likes of Ishan Kishan and others seemed to be aligned with what Hardik Pandya had to offer, Jasprit Bumrah and Suryakumar Yadav did not seem to be supporting their captain.

Both SKY and Bumrah must have their captaincy aspirations. To their credit, they have been standout performers for MI but they needed to show strength and unity with Hardik when he was facing all the criticism. Instead, both SKY and Bumrah along with Rohit abandoned Hardik.

Hardik Pandya’s poor form

However, things still could have been different had Hardik been able to perform. But he succumbed to the pressure with the crowd jeering him at every possible opportunity.

Despite his recent resurgence with the ball, he has been a failure with the bat. Hardik has scored just 198 runs in 12 matches at an average of 19.80 and a strike rate of 147.36. He failed to close the matches and with the ball, he did not make any meaningful contribution early on in the campaign. That was another reason why Mumbai Indians made an early exit from IPL 2024.

Rohit Sharma

However, the biggest reason behind Mumbai’s poor season could be Rohit Sharma. Not only he failed as a batter, but he also failed as a senior player in the group. Since his century against Chennai Super Kings, Rohit went on to score 36, 6, 8, 4, 11 and 4. A gesture of support to Hardik in public would have done a great job. But with him on the field, the team seemed divided into groups.

Junior players including Nehal Wadhera and Akash Madhwal were seen asking for Rohit’s advice on the field instead of Hardik. MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings managed that excellently with Ruturaj Gaikwad taking charge.

Hardik Pandya – the failed captain

Yes, Hardik has lacked support from his seniors. But the fact that he spoke his mind in public and singled out Tilak Verma, who has been a consistent performer for MI, did not go down well.

Hardik blamed Tilak for MI’s loss against Delhi Capitals, singling him out even after the youngster top-scored for the team. He called Tilak out for his lack of match awareness.

“If I had to pick something out, we could have taken a couple of more chances in the middle overs. The left-handers could have probably gone after Axar a little bit. It’s something we missed out on in terms of game awareness,” Hardik had said after MI vs DC clash.

Furthermore, Hardik’s captaincy has been full of errors in terms of field placement, batting order, and toss decisions. And with the season already over for MI, the management group should sit with Rohit Sharma and take a decision on his time at the franchise.

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