It has been 26 days since India faced a heart-wrenching loss against Australia in the World Cup final. While some have started to move past it, the majority are still grappling with the events of November 19. India, who were notably the strongest team in the tournament, fell short in the final. Australia clinched the title, winning by six wickets and securing their status as five-time World Champions. The image of Team India led by Captain Rohit Sharma, visibly distraught, holding back tears while collecting their runner-up medals before retreating to the change room, is a memory that Indian cricket fans will not easily forget.
And now comes another shocker. The demotion of Rohit Sharma.
45 centuries, 3 ODI double centuries, 5 victorious campaigns for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, Asia Cup and Nidahas Trophy for India. 5 centuries in a single World Cup, 582 career sixes, and 1736 fours. That’s Rohit Sharma for you. If Cricket is an art, Rohit is a grade A Artist. And if Cricket is war, Rohit is one of the ablest we ever had. But Mumbai Indians casually discarded him. That’s a shame.
In a major shakeup in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Mumbai Indians, the five-time champions, have decided to replace their captain Rohit Sharma with Hardik Pandya. This news has taken the cricket world by surprise. Hardik Pandya, known for his all-round capabilities, has moved from Gujarat Titans. This comes after Mumbai Indians traded Cameron Green to Royal Challengers Bangalore. The trade wasn’t just for a player, as Pandya is set to take over as captain as well.
This decision raises questions about the reasons behind the change in leadership. Rohit Sharma, who led Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles over a decade, finds himself replaced by Pandya, who has had a successful stint with Gujarat Titans, leading them to two IPL finals and winning one. This move suggests a significant shift in Sharma’s position, especially with doubts looming over his role as the captain of India’s white-ball teams following the Cricket World Cup 2023.
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The decision by Mumbai Indians to replace Rohit Sharma with Hardik Pandya as captain may have been influenced by several factors:
Critics argue that Rohit Sharma’s recent IPL performance has been a concern. Although he had a dream run in the Cricket World Cup, his results in the IPL have been less impressive. In the 2022 season, he scored 268 runs in 14 games at an average of 19.14, and in 2023, he made 332 runs in 16 matches, averaging 20.75. While it’s not clear if his captaincy responsibilities affected his batting, the team seemed to need a change to stay competitive and prepare for the future.
Looking ahead to the IPL 2025 mega auction, Mumbai Indians are strategizing for the long term. In the previous major auction, the BCCI allowed teams to retain up to three Indian and two overseas players. Mumbai Indians had to let go of Hardik Pandya then but aim to avoid similar situations in the future. Likely retention choices for the team include Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, and Hardik Pandya as captain. If the rules remain the same, Rohit, despite his stature, might be at risk of not being retained.
The future of Rohit Sharma in T20 cricket is currently under speculation, with decisions largely influenced by the national selection committee, led by Ajit Agarkar, and input from coach Rahul Dravid. His performance in the World Cup, particularly his batting during the powerplay, has sparked discussions about his potential return to T20Is, possibly even as captain. Much depends on his performance in the early stages of the IPL in March-April. Should he bat in his known and expected form, it could significantly bolster his chances.
As for Rohit’s role in the Mumbai Indians, much hinges on the retention rules for the next year. Previously, the BCCI allowed teams to retain up to three Indian players and two overseas players, with a total maximum of four. Given this, Mumbai Indians might face a tough choice. They would likely retain Suryakumar Yadav, the top T20I batter, Jasprit Bumrah, one of the world’s leading bowlers, and their new captain, Hardik Pandya. However, with about 10 months to strategize before the IPL 2025 auction, and uncertainty about the rules, the situation remains fluid.
It’s possible that this could be Rohit’s last year with Mumbai Indians, but there’s also a chance it may not be.
Come what may! Rohit Sharma will remain one of the greatest captains of the national side and perhaps the greatest T20 Captain along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
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