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Is Hardik Pandya really the main culprit behind Mumbai Indians’ worst IPL season ever?

Is Hardik Pandya really the main culprit behind Mumbai Indians’ worst IPL season ever?

In a season where Mumbai had more controversies than victories, one has to question what went right for them rather than wrong.

The Mumbai Indians, 5-time champions, were the first team to be knocked out of the IPL 2024 season. With their star all-rounder, Hardik Pandya, returning to the franchise as captain, everyone had high hopes. But none of what was expected came true. 

With just 4 wins to their name in 14 matches, it was the joint-worst performance by the franchise since its inception. The question is: What went wrong, and who is to blame for it? Does the burden of failure fall upon captain Hardik Pandya? Are we to blame the management for it? Or is there any issue in the dressing room?

What went wrong for Mumbai Indians?

The answer isn’t; it’s Pandya’s fault. It’s much more complex than that. For a franchise with a rich history like the Mumbai Indians to fail miserably, a lot has to go wrong. 

1. Hardik Pandya’s batting and captaincy

No one can doubt Pandya’s talent, but his performance hasn’t been up to the mark this season. He averaged just 18 with the bat, and while he took 11 wickets, he wasn’t economical or consistent with the ball. But the bigger question was about his captaincy. His tactics when it came to building a balanced batting or bowling lineup exposed him. 

From not giving Jasprit Bumrah the new ball, sending Piyush Chawla to bat ahead of Tim David, and being unsure about his own batting position, Hardik made many errors. Throughout the 14 matches, the all-rounder failed to find a perfect XI, chopping and changing their batting or bowling line-up without finding any success.

2. Rohit Sharma’s lack of support

As their senior most batter and player, Rohit had a big role to play. One can understand him being miffed following his removal as Mumbai Indians captain. But not once was Rohit seen lending Pandya a hand. Although he regularly talked with Hardik on the field, one expected him to come out and clear the air as reports of a rift in the dressing room swirled around.

Apart from his off-the-field form, his on-the-field performance wasn’t great either. He may have scored over 400 runs, but 173 of those came in two innings. His strike rate in the powerplay was impressive, but he failed to cross the 6-over mark more often than not.

IPL 2024

3. Mismanagement from the MI management 

A major reason behind the Mumbai Indians’ downfall this year was their management. They decided to trade Cameron Green and replace Rohit Sharma as captain with Hardik Pandya ahead of the IPL 2024 season. This decision seemed to create turmoil in the dressing room and make their middle order weak. Green had scored over 450 runs and taken six wickets in 2023.

They also let Tristian Stubbs and Ramandeep Singh go, two players who impressed everyone this year. Instead, they chose to retain Dewald Brevis, who played just 3 matches and scored just 69 runs. Their bowling was already weak, and they didn’t have much money left in the bank with them paying big bucks to Ishan Kishan (15.25 crores), someone who hasn’t scored more than 500 runs in a season since 2020.

4. No bowling sans Jasprit Bumrah

Dilshan Madushanka and Jason Behrendorff may have been ruled out of IPL 2024, but that doesn’t mean that the Mumbai Indians should be let off the hook. They can’t make an excuse for their horrendous bowling efforts. Apart from Jasprit Bumrah and Gerald Coetzee, to some extent, no bowler inspired confidence.

Luke Wood, Romario Shephard, Nuwan Thushara, and Kwena Maphaka aren’t even among the top 5 bowlers in their own country, much less in the IPL. They did play Anshul Kamboj, and he did moderately well, but to have Piyush Chawla as your second bowler best doesn’t paint a nice picture.

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