IPL 2024: Mumbai Indians 'Look Confused' Under Hardik Pandya, Reckons Graeme Smith

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith believes the pressure Hardik Pandya is under has created "a little turmoil in the air" for Mumbai Indians. Ex-Australia opener Aaron Finch too feels Pandya is under the pump amid MI's lacklustre performance in Indian Premier League 2024

Hardik Pandya, MI vs SRH, IPL 2024 match 8, AP pic
File photo of Hardik Pandya in action during match 8 of Indian Premier League 2024 between Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Photo: AP

India vice-captain Hardik Pandya looks drained, flattened, under pressure and Mumbai Indians looks like a confused unit under him, reckons former cricketers Aaron Finch and Graeme Smith as the five-time champions continue to struggle in the IPL. (Full Coverage | More Cricket News)

Pandya once again walked out to loud boos around the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday during Mumbai Indians' yet another disappointing outing, which they lost by 24 runs to Kolkata Knight Riders.

Mumbai Indians had begun the contest on a positive note by snaffling five quick wickets to leave KKR reeling at 57 for five, but the visitors fought back to post 169 on the board.

In reply, Mumbai crashed out for 145 in 18.5 overs despite Suryakumar Yadav's 56.

Pandya lasted only two deliveries as Mumbai’s batters once again cut a sorry figure on a two-paced track to succumb to their eighth defeat in 11 matches this season.

"He just looks really flattened at the moment, he looks really drained and someone who is feeling the pressure. I feel for him; I have been in that situation myself where everything that you're trying personally doesn't seem to be working," Finch was quoted as saying by Star Sports.

"When the team isn't performing as well, that is a very difficult place to be. It one thing where you're not performing and the team is winning — that is something you'd take as a captain. You bear all responsibility as captain for the team's performance and that is an incredibly hard place to be, particularly in this competition where it's so brutal," Finch added.

The former Australia opener conceded Mumbai Indians should have got over the line chasing 170 at a ground considered a haven for batters.

"You would expect them to chase 170 with the dew falling at the Wankhede stadium. It's a beautiful place to bat, generally. Yes, it was a bit uncharacteristic in the way it turned a bit more two-paced than what we have seen in the past," Finch said.

South Africa's legendary captain Graeme Smith said MI have been a 'confused team' under Pandya with plenty of changes being made with the personnel.

"Hardik has really struggled, he's looked like a man under pressure. That has created a little turmoil in the air, who knows how that has affected the people. But even the batting lineup, they look like they're confused," he said.

"Tilak Varma and Naman Dhir were fighting in the middle order, Dhir was batting at No 3, and Hardik moving all over the place. They should have had Tilak at (No) 3, Sky at (No) 4, and Hardik batting at (No) 5 throughout the season, with David at (No) 6. Then, figure out your bowling units," he said.

"All over and all around, they've been a very confused team this season and it's been hugely disappointing from one of the mega franchises of the IPL. A lot of people in the MI fanbase and camp will be very sore," Smith added.

Former Australia vice-captain Shane Watson was also critical of Pandya's captaincy calls, saying MI allowed KKR back into the game by not deploying their best bowler when they were 57 for five.

"To keep bowling Naman Dhir when it was so critical (KKR were at 57-5), it was a big mistake from the leadership of the Mumbai Indians, whether it was Hardik Pandya making the decisions or information coming from the sideline," Watson told Jio Cinema.

"(Jasprit) Bumrah had bowled only one over at that stage, so (they needed to) get him in the game again to try and break the partnership of Venkatesh Iyer and Manish Pandey, but they didn't. They just let them cruise and build momentum in the partnership."

"Before you know it, they hadn't played a shot in anger and that built the partnership to a point where it was too late when he came in. There were a lot of baffling decisions from the Mumbai Indians' leadership, which is going to be hard to explain," Watson added.