Homecoming is fine, but has Hardik Pandya jumped the gun?

Homecoming is fine, but has Hardik Pandya jumped the gun?

While Hardik Pandya best knows the reason behind the move to Mumbai Indians for IPL 2024, in hindsight it may not have been the best move.

Sunday’s IPL 2024 transfer window started with the rumors of Hardik Pandya being retained by the Gujarat Titans; progressed to confirmed reports of him being retained, and finally settled into him moving to Mumbai Indians. Just the sheer uncertainty revolving around Pandya raises questions galore. 

India’s premier all-rounder, who led the Titans to a title in their very first season, was let go. Was there an injury concern surrounding Hardik, and the franchise did not want to take a chance? Did Hardik himself express his desire to move to Mumbai? Or was Hardik not happy with the money being offered by his franchise? While there can be at least a million answers to these rather simple questions, that should be none of our concern.

Hardik Pandya asIndia CaptainGujarat Titans Captains
Matches Played1633
*Only T20Is

The Larger Picture

ipl transfer window ipl 2024 hardik pandya gujarat titans mumbai indians team india shubman gill

What really is of paramount importance is, that he might have just jumped the gun, and let go of an opportunity to be the next full-time Indian skipper in the white-ball formats. Back in 2022, he led Team India for the first time during a T20 series against Ireland. Since then he has led the team in 16 T20Is, winning 10, and three ODIs, winning two.

His prowess as a skipper lay not just in his strong numbers as a leader, but the intensity he brought in the field. He elevated his own performance as the skipper of the side. Time and again during his captaincy, he showed why he could be a successor to Rohit Sharma, at least his stats show that. But those numbers might not change now at all.

And it could be a bigger loss to Team India, not to have a captain who understands batting and bowling equally well, being a fast-bowling all-rounder himself. Playing under Rohit Sharma at Mumbai Indians might move him off the radar of captaincy. With all his other contenders already leading IPL sides — Shubman Gill has been announced as Gujarat Titans skipper — that is not what the doctor ordered for Pandya junior. That straightway put in focus, Gill, KL Rahul, and injured Rishabh Pant, who has been out of action for a year now after a near-fatal accident. 

The Four-way Battle to Lead Team India in White-ball Formats

The competition is not just limited to Indian IPL captains, but others too; there is Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Jasprit Bumrah, who have led the Indian teams in the past. So it was imperative Hardik stayed the captain at Titans. For now, it just looks like a step backward, where Hardik himself is unsure about his future in the Indian team, given the amount of injuries he suffers.

PlayerMatches as Captain (T20Is)Won Lost
Ruturaj Gaikwad320
Suryakumar Yadav220
Jasprit Bumrah 220
KL Rahul 110
Rishabh Pant522
*Ruturaj also led Team India to a gold medal at the Asian Games

For all we know, this might eventually prove like the right move, and Hardik might become the Indian captain in the long run, but one would agree, that the chances look bleak. Blaming Hardik is of no real value here, as something important only, which the common public is not aware, might have propelled such a move. 

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