Hardik Pandya's 'Yes and No' suspense on discussing MI IPL captaincy switch with Rohit Sharma; addresses 'awkwardness' | Cricket - Hindustan Times

Hardik Pandya's 'Yes and No' suspense on discussing MI IPL captaincy switch with Rohit Sharma; addresses 'awkwardness'

Mar 18, 2024 11:59 PM IST

Hardik Pandya opened up on his equation with Rohit Sharma after taking over as captain of Mumbai Indians for IPL 2024 and possibly beyond.

For the first time in his career, Rohit Sharma is set to play under Hardik Pandya when five-time champions Mumbai Indians open their IPL 2024 campaign against Gujarat Titans on Sunday. MI have undergone a change in leadership, handing over the reins of the team from Rohit to the returning Hardik, who comes back to the franchise after serving as captain of the Gujarat Titans for two very successful seasons.

Rohit Sharma dismissed the idea of any awkwardness between him and Rohit Sharma when they play for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024. (BCCI)
Rohit Sharma dismissed the idea of any awkwardness between him and Rohit Sharma when they play for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024. (BCCI)

But all this while, as the suspense around how the Rohit-Hardik dynamic will turn out, neither Pandya nor Sharma addressed the transition… until now. On Monday, during MI's pre-season IPL press conference, Hardik finally touched on the topic and revealed a very interesting scoop. The newly-appointed MI captain revealed that although he is yet to have a word with Rohit about the captaincy change, he is certain there will be no 'awkwardness' between the two.

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When Hardik was asked whether things may be a little weird between them, he dismissed the thought.

"First of all, it won't be different he is going to be there to help me out if I need his help. At the same time, you have also mentioned he is the captain of the Indian cricket team which helps me because this team has achieved under his belt and from now onwards it is going to be what he has achieved I will just carry forward that. So I don't think it will be awkward or anything different. It will be a nice feeling because we have been playing for 10 years, I have played whole my career under him, and yeah, I know he is going to have a hand on my shoulder always throughout the season," Hardik said.

Haven't spoken to Rohit yet: Hardik

On December 15, 2023, MI announced Hardik as their new captain, ending Rohit's 11-season tenure as captain. From 2013, when Rohit took over from Ricky Ponting midway, all the way to 2023, becoming a five-time champion and the most successful IPL captain of all time, Rohit has evolved into a bonafide IPL legend. During his time, MI enjoyed unprecedented highs such as winning the title every alternate year and shaping some of Indian cricket's current day greats such as Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya himself when they were rookies trying to find their feet in cricket.

While Hardik and Rohit are yet to be seen together in one frame as MI gear up for a fresh season, the all-rounder admitted he is yet to have a proper discussion with Rohit about the captaincy switch. Hardik is coming into the IPL being out of action close to three months, while Rohit enters the season on the back of playing a gruelling non-stop season, including the World Cup, tour of South Africa and the five-Test series against England. Hardik pointed out that the reason the talk is still pending between the two is because of Rohit's tight schedule with the Indian team.

"Yes… and no. Because he has been travelling; he has been playing. We're all professionals and by the time the team comes together, we will be playing. It's been only a couple of months since we've not seen each other, and as mentioned, whenever our IPL preparation starts, which from today through a practice match, and once he comes, we will definitely have a chat," said Hardik.

Fit-again Pandya ready to hit the ground running

IPL will mark Hardik's maiden top-flight game since he injured himself during the India vs Bangladesh World Cup 2023 match in October. He did play a couple of games at the DY Patil tournament but those were nothing more than practice matches that ensured Hardik's body could sustain the rigours of a 20-over game. Two years ago, Hardik made his grand comeback through IPL 2022 through Gujarat Titans, dismissing concerns over his bowling as he clocked 140 kph with ease, and the MI captain expects nothing less.

Hardik was India's fifth bowling option in the World Cup and series leading up to it. But while bowling all 10 overs can be a bit of a challenge for Hardik, he is sure to last four overs of bowling and 20 overs of captaining.

"I have no issues with my body, I plan to play all the games. In IPL, I have not missed many games anyway. Technically, I was out for three months. It was a freak injury and it had nothing to do with my earlier injuries. I tried to stop the ball and ended up getting injured," he added.

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