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IPL 2024: How Mumbai Indians fluffed their lines | Cricket News

Team was a divided house after captaincy change
After the IPL auctions ended in Dubai in December and one looked at the team that Mumbai Indians had put together, the feeling was one of awe. Experts asked how any side could ever hope to stop the five-time champs from progressing to the playoffs.
How can any team beat an outfit that boasted India’s all-format captain, his deputy, the world’s best T20I batter and a once-in-a-generation fast bowler?
However, Mumbai Indians have now become the first team to be knocked out of the playoffs race, with two games of the league stage remaining.How did this come to pass? We can look at the decision the franchise took to trade Hardik Pandya from Gujarat Titans, where he had led the team to a title and a runners-up finish. In doing so, MI let go of Aussie all-rounder Cameron Green, who went to RCB. Green, a hard-hitting batter and a bowler who can bowl speedy spells, was a success story for MI in 2023.
What irked fans, though, was the franchise’s decision to replace Rohit Sharma as captain with Hardik. Rohit had endeared himself with the way he led India in the ODI World Cup and had batted selflessly, shunning statistical glory.

One thought the fans would eventually come to terms with the change. However, the incessant booing and heckling of Pandya by the crowds across all venues – more so by the MI faithful at the Wankhede – have suggested otherwise.
It got so bad that during the toss in the team’s first home game vs Rajasthan Royals, former India batter-turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar told the Mumbai crowd to “behave” after they booed Hardik at the toss. He had already been booed by fans in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad at that point.
Leadership errors
While the hooting and heckling was excessive and toxic, both in the stands and on social media, Hardik did not help his cause by making elementary captaincy errors. Not giving the first over to Jasprit Bumrah was one of them. Instead of using his ace bowler before the batters got set, he either opened the bowling himself or gave the new ball to rookies. By the time Bumrah had the ball in his hand, the teams had already racked up a substantial score.
Every time a move bombed, the cameras zoomed to Hardik’s face, which sported a sheepish, forced smile.
Choosing to bowl the final over himself and dishing out half-volleys to MS Dhoni in the marquee clash against CSK was a scandalous self-endorsement of his bowling abilities by Hardik.
While it was already evident that the captain and the team are not on the same page, the final straw that would have broken the camel’s back would have been Hardik throwing a talented youngster like Tilak Varma under the bus after the loss to Delhi Capitals, accusing him of not being pro-active against left-arm spinner Axar Patel. There were also reports that the senior players met the team management to address concerns about Hardik’s style of leadership after the Kotla incident.
Having led the franchise for 10 years, most young players gravitate naturally towards the phlegmatic Rohit for advice.
Hardik’s way of dealing with it seemed curious as he asked Rohit to man the fence, a position he rarely fields in at the international level. It gave the impression of an insecure leader and alienated and angered the fans even more.
It did not help that Hardik’s own performance hasn’t been inspiring. A limited bowler because of fitness, he now looks like a confused batter. Not assigning himself a fixed role was a mistake. For MI, from 2016-19, he was a finisher. For Gujarat, he batted at No.4. This time, he batted in different positions and lost his touch.

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