Is Hardik Pandya the right captain to lead Mumbai Indians?

Mumbai Indians (MI) along with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have been two of the most successful IPL teams with 5 trophies each. The main reason for MI’s continued success is their strong management team, supportive owners and the proficiency of the people handling all the sporting decisions. They’ve had legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Mahela Jayawardhene, Zaheer Khan, Ricky Ponting and now Keiron Pollard and Lasith Malinga in their coaching and mentorship departments. All of this, with arguably the best IPL captain, Rohit Sharma leading the Mumbai Indians Team. But, 2024 has been a challenge for the team, with the forced removal of Rohit Sharma from captaincy and bringing back the home grown boy, Hardik Pandya from Gujarat Titans. As of writing this article, Mumbai Indians have lost their first 3 consecutive games and sit at the bottom of the IPL table. 

Hardik Pandya as the Mumbai Indians Captain

Credit: NDTV Sports

So, this lands us the question, was bringing in Hardik Pandya the right choice? Was replacing Rohit Sharma a wise decision? And Is Hardik Pandya the right captain to lead Mumbai Indians for the foreseeable future? Let’s find out…….

Hardik Pandya: The New Mumbai Indians Captain for IPL 2024

Two new teams were brought into the IPL by the BCCI for the 2022 edition of the tournament. One would be Gujarat Titans (GT), owned by CVC Capital Partners and the other would be Lucknow SuperGiants (LSG) owned by the RP Sanjeev Goenka Group. Mega Auctions were held for the IPL and the team completely changed. Mumbai, which had a very strong team for the 2020 season, underperformed in 2021, was also looking for an overhaul. Hardik Pandya, in this mix, was entering the prime of his career and was seeking another challenge where he would get to be the main man of a team, rather than just being in the shadow and playing under the great Rohit Sharma. The message was clear: Hardik was approached by the Gujarat Titans management, a team based in his home state, Gujarat. This move turned out to be super successful, and GT played two back-to-back finals, even lifting the IPL trophy in their inaugural season by being one of the most well balanced sides. As a captain, Hardik Pandya had one of the best records, winning 22 matches out of the 31 played with a win rate of 70.96%. Now, keeping his captaincy aside, he was a player who could change matches on his own with his batting, bowling, and fielding skills. Usually, a lower middle-order batsman who batted at the death over and was known for his power hitting for Mumbai, he promoted himself to bat up the order on multiple occasions for GT, which worked wonders for him and the team. He also provided 4 overs of quality fast bowling, truly being one of the best all-rounders in both the 2022 and 2023 seasons. 

Hardik Pandya lead the Gujarat Titans IPL team


Amidst this, Mumbai Indians had already had 3 seasons back to back to forget, in 2021, 22 and 23. Poor performances in the 2022 season also led to Keiron Pollard’s retirement, who was once, with his multifaceted, all round ability, the most important player in the team. Even Rohit Sharma’s performance with the bat was under a lot of scrutiny, scoring only 981 runs in three seasons, from 2021-23, which is average at best as per his standards. 

Mumbai Indians needed  a fresh breath of energy and motivation to get going and conquer the throne again, as they did in the past decade. The MI management sent a request to the Gujarat Titans about Hardik Pandya just before the 2023 IPL Auction’s Retention period ended. After intense negotiations that spanned about 72 hours, a reported trade fee of Rs. 15 Crore, was finalised between the two franchises. To make funds for the deal to go through, MI player, Cameron Green was traded to Royal Challengers Bangalore for Rs. 17.5 Crore. Hardik Pandya was announced to be back to the Wankhede Stadium playing in the royal blue and gold colours of MI. Further, he was even announced as the captain of the Mumbai Indians in the upcoming 2024 IPL season through a social media post, which shocked everyone, from fans and supporters to Rohit Sharma’s wife Ritika Sajdeh as well. 

Rohit Sharma vs Hardik Pandya: The Fan Wars

Rohit Sharma with 5 IPL Trophies as Mumbai Indians Captain

Credit: ANI News

Rohit Sharma, along with MS Dhoni has been the most successful captain in the IPL. He was the face of the Mumbai Indians and the mastermind behind what made the MI dynasty so dominant. He was also coming in as the captain of the Indian Cricket Team leading the team unbeaten to the final of the 2023 ICC ODI Cricket World Cup, which India lost against Australia. His popularity was at an all time high because of the way he led the Indian team, his tactics, the way he handled difficult situations, and his overall leadership ability. In his 10 years with MI as well, he showed how he could work with youngsters and get the best out of them to win matches and eventually titles. But every good story comes to an end. And this time, the reason for the end of Rohit Sharma’s role as the MI captain was Hardik Pandya’s homecoming. 

It was reported that Pandya had a condition in his contract that he would only return if he was made the captain of the franchise. From his point of view, this condition only seemed logical because he was coming from a team that represented his home state and was the skipper of the best team in the two league seasons. Needing someone to fuse in the confidence, the energy, and the freshness, the Mumbai Indians owners, Indiawin Sports (Reliance Industries), and the MI management agreed to the conditions, and Hardik Pandya was made the skipper of the Mumbai Indians team for the 2024 season. 

Hardik Pandya as the IPL 2024 Captain of the Mumbai Indians

Credit: Hindustan Times

Now this is where, Hardik Pandya started facing the hate of the true Mumbai Indians and Rohit Sharma fanbase. Matching Rohit’s level of experience, popularity and the expectations of the fans from MI would anyway be very difficult for any new captain coming in. Moreover, Hardik has a different kind of attitude where he’s often heard giving and making contradicting opinions and decisions to what the majority of the fans and cricket experts feel to be right. Along with this, the Gujarat fans, for whom Hardik was a cult hero, felt betrayed by the way he left their team. All of these reasons combined have made it tough for fans to accept Hardik Pandya as the new captain, and this, in turn, is the reason for all the hate, the trolls, and the boos that he has been getting recently.

Also Read: Shubman Gill - Gujarat Titans Captain

Rohit Sharma vs Hardik Pandya IPL Captaincy Record:

Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma having a chat after an IPL match

Credit: Business Standard





Win %

Rohit Sharma





Hardik Pandya





When comparing the captaincy records of Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya, it's evident that both have led their respective teams with distinction. Rohit Sharma’s IPL captaincy record is beyond impressive, having led the Mumbai Indians (MI) to five IPL titles, a testament to his leadership and strategic acumen. On the other hand, Hardik Pandya’s captaincy record, though relatively new to captaincy, is commendable with a win percentage of 64.70%. Despite leading the Gujarat Titans to one IPL title and reaching another final in the next year past, Pandya's captaincy tenure is shorter compared to Sharma's illustrious career. Also, it's important to understand that these records, while informative, don't always represent the entirety of a captain's responsibilities on the pitch. Skippers are tasked with managing team dynamics, making crucial decisions under pressure, and adapting strategies based on match situations. Therefore, while Sharma's IPL captaincy record stands out, Pandya's potential as a captain is evident, and further evaluation over time could provide a clearer picture of his leadership capabilities.

Is Hardik Pandya the right captain to lead Mumbai Indians?

Now the main question arises, is Hardik Pandya the right one to lead MI’s next set of young superstars while also keeping the senior players in harmony. Looking at the first impressions as the captain, MI have already lost their first 3 games in the 2024 season. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) even scored the highest ever T20 total smashing MI bowlers for 277 runs giving them their biggest humiliation. Things haven’t looked great yet. Also there are reports that the senior players like Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla and Ishan Kishan have been dissatisfied with Pandya’s leadership style and decision making. This puts a lot of pressure on Hardik to adhere and have the mental strength to ignore the trolls, the hate and the boos and gather everyone up together to make his time successful while also making the team happy. 

Can he do it? There’s no reason to believe why he can’t, we’re talking about one of the best all rounders in the league, and the captain who won his team the coveted trophy in their very first season. And he’s leading a team like MI, who have it in the team culture to never give up and to fight till the end. So, it’ll be interesting to see how things go ahead with Hardik Pandya as the Mumbai Indians’ Captain, but with his skills, drive, and support from the team, he could succeed and win the hearts of the Mumbai fans over.

The Conclusion: Did the MI management fail while appointing the new Captain of Mumbai Indians for IPL 2024?

MI has been one of the best teams in the past decade, and their fans expect them to perform well every season. This puts a lot of pressure on the team, especially on the MI captain. Bringing in Hardik Pandya as Mumbai Indians Captain isn’t a bad move, but the way they did it, replacing the legend Rohit Sharma has enraged fans. There’s a feeling between fans that Ro was disrespected and is not happy in the franchise. Had MI taken the same route as the Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni, with Dhoni handing over the responsibilities to Ruturaj Gaikwad rather than the CSK management stripping it from him, the decision would have fared well. One more reason there’s discontent amongst players and fans is that Hardik’s appointment kills the captaincy ambitions of players like Jasprit Bumrah and Suryakumar Yadav. But this is Mumbai Indians we are talking about, one of the best run franchises and a team with high ambitions. They’ll find out a way to be at the top soon.

MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings Captain Ruturaj Gaikwad having a conversation before making a decision

Credit: India Today

Now that you have read about the Mumbai Indians Captain drama between the MI management, Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma and the fans, here are some more articles we recommend you to read:

MA Chidambaram Cricket Stadium | Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium | Chinnaswamy Stadium

Leave a comment