Wanted to take pressure off Rohit Sharma – Mark Boucher on Hardik Pandya captaining Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024

Mumbai Indians head coach Mark Boucher has said the team wanted to take pressure off Rohit Sharma, who had captained the side since 2013, when they handed the mantle to Hardik Pandya ahead of IPL 2024.

“[Rohit] has not had the best couple of seasons of late with the bat, but he has done well as a captain,” Boucher said on the Banter With The Boys podcast. “One thing I picked up with Ro, as well, who is a fantastic guy – he has been captaining for ages and he has done really well for Mumbai Indians, and India as well – is that he walks into a place and there are just cameras, and he is so busy. Speaking with the Mumbai Indians group, we thought that this is an opportunity to step in for his last year or so.”

Across the last two IPL seasons, Rohit scored 600 runs at an average of 20.00 and a strike rate of 126.84. Mumbai won their fifth title in 2020 but failed to make the playoffs in 2021 and 2022 and were knocked out in the second Qualifier in IPL 2023.

“We still want him as a player because we believe he still has a great value to add, and just go out and enjoy it, without the hype of being a captain,” Boucher said. “He is still going to captain India, that hype is going to be there. But when he steps into the IPL maybe just taking that extra bit of pressure off him as a captain, maybe we get the best out of Rohit Sharma.

“We see him playing with a nice smile on his face, spending a bit of time with the beautiful family he has got. There’s no easy way to do it.”

Mumbai bought back Hardik from Gujarat Titans in an all-cash deal in November last year and made him captain ahead of the auction in December. Hardik captained Titans to the IPL title in 2022 and led them to a runners-up finish in 2023.

“We saw a window period to get Hardik back as a player,” Boucher said. “He is a Mumbai Indians boy as well. He’s gone over to another franchise, he won his first year as captain, came runner-up in his second year. There’s obviously some very good leadership skills as well.

“In India, people get quite emotional, but you take the emotion out of it, it’s just more of a cricketing decision that was made. I do think it is going to bring the best out of Rohit – as a person, as a player – and let him go out there and enjoy and score runs.”

Boucher also looked forward to working with Jasprit Bumrah, who missed IPL 2023 with a back injury. “Bumrah coming back strengthens us big way,” he said. “He is someone that I have looked at and I have gone, ‘this guy knows what he is doing’. He is very smart, apparently, good team man as well. That’s one relationship I am looking forward to.”

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