Mumbai Indians (MI) is one of the most followed and champion franchises of the Indian Premier League (IPL). There is no doubt that the side has a huge fan following with star players from India and abroad in the squad. Players like Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav and Kieron Pollard are the face of the franchise. The franchise pulled off the most head-turning IPL trades in the brief history of the tournament when they brought Hardik Pandya before the mega auction. MI fans welcomed the former star player with open arms but were in shock at the news of him being leading the side instead of regular captain Rohit Sharma. IND vs ENG 2nd Test 2024: Winning a Test in These Conditions Is Not Easy; Bowlers Stepped Up, Says Rohit Sharma.

Rohit Sharma is one of the most followed stars in Indian cricket and led the MI team to five IPL titles. With no issue of injury, health or even deep in form with ‘The Hitman’, the change of captaincy surprised many. MI also had to cope with a lot of criticism from their fans on social media for the leadership change. But for the first time head coach Mark Boucher reckoned it was a 'cricketing decision' while opening up about it.

Mark Boucher’s take on change in Captaincy at Mumbai Indians

In September 2022, Boucher was appointed as head coach of the Mumbai Indians team and has been with the franchise since then. Influential South African wicketkeeper explains the reasons behind appointing Hardik Pandya as MI captain.  He said, "I think it was purely a cricketing decision. We saw the window period to get Hardik back as a player. For me, it's a transition phase. A lot of people don't understand in India, people get quite emotional, but you know you take the emotions away from it. I think it's just more of a cricketing decision that was made and I do think it is going to bring the best out of Rohit as a person as a player. Just let him go out and enjoy and score some good runs," Mark Boucher said on the Smash Sports podcast.

Boucher stressed that the intention of the Mumbai Indians strategy team is to take the burden and hype of captaincy away from Rohit, especially after a couple of ordinary seasons with the bat by his standards. Rohit scored 268 at a strike rate of 120.18 in 2022 when his team finished bottom of the table. In 2023, he did better with 332 runs at 132.80, and his team lost in the second qualifier. ‘Gale Ka Vaat Lag Gaya Hai Chilla Chilla Ke’, Says Rohit Sharma While Setting Up Field During IND vs ENG 2nd Test 2024.

Boucher added, "One thing I did pick up with Ro (Rohit) is that he is a fantastic guy. I mean he's been captaining for ages and he's done really well for Mumbai Indians. Now he also leads India as well. It is that he walks into a place and there's just cameras in it and he's so busy and he hasn't had probably the best couple of seasons of late with the bat but he's done well as a captain.”

Focusing more on getting the most out of Rohit Sharma as a player than burdening him with added duties, Boucher praised the star batter and said, "And I just thought you know when we're speaking with the whole Mumbai Indians group, we thought that maybe this is the opportunity for him to step as a player. We believe he got some great value to add and just go out there and actually enjoy it without the hype of being a captain,"

The 47-year-old coach explained that this will allow Rohit to spend more time with family and relax a bit before games. He also praised Rohit's successor - Hardik - for making an instant impact in the last two seasons. Hardik, who was picked by Gujarat Titans before the auction ahead of the 2022 season led them to the title that year, before finishing runners-up in 2023.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 06, 2024 12:54 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website