Sports

Will Hardik Pandya Captain India At ICC T20 World Cup 2024? Mumbai Indians' IPL Announcement Might Be Hint To Rohit Sharma's Future

That Mumbai Indians replaced Rohit Sharma, who led them to five Indian Premier League titles, might point to a passing of baton to Hardik Pandya for the ICC T20 World Cup in June 2024. Both Rohit and Virat Kohli have not played a T20I since previous year's World Cup in Australia

Hardik Pandya speaks during India's T20I series against West Indies.
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With Mumbai Indians announcing that Hardik Pandya will replace Rohit Sharma as their captain for the 2024 season of the Indian Premier League, speculation is rife about a similar switch possibly happening with the Indian 20-over side for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup slated in June next year. (Cricket News)

The change in MI's leadership is a significant statement, considering the fact that Rohit Sharma spearheaded the franchise to five IPL titles, and is the joint-most-successful captain in the tournament's history along with Chennai Super Kings' MS Dhoni. The move points to a passing of baton of sorts, considering Rohit is now 36 and not getting any younger.

Rohit is currently India's all-format captain on paper. However, he has not played any T20I international since India's semi-final defeat at the 2022 World Cup in Adelaide, and Hardik Pandya has emerged as a probable successor in the shortest format, leading India in 13 of their last 25 20-over games.

But with Hardik injuring his left ankle in the first half of the 2023 ODI World Cup and being sidelined for two months, Suryakumar Yadav was the skipper for the Australia and South Africa T20I series, and did well at that - beating the Aussies 4-1 at home and levelling the away series 1-1 against the Proteas.

Rohit has not officially spoken on his plans, but his decision to not play the white-ball leg of the South Africa tour might be an indication that he is re-considering his future in the shorter formats of cricket. The T20I series against Afghanistan may provide more clarity on his mindset, however. 

A similar question applies to fellow senior pro Virat Kohli, who, like Rohit, has not played any T20I since previous year's World Cup. There has also been conversation about Kohli's waning skills as a T20 batter, though the man himself disagrees. 

"A lot of people feel my T20 cricket is declining, but I don't feel like that at all," Kohli had said during IPL 2023, where he was the fourth-highest run-getter and back-to-back centuries for Royal Challengers Bangalore. "I feel I am playing my best T20 cricket again," he had added. 

Meanwhile, BCCI secretary Jay Shah has downplayed the speculation regarding India's T20I captaincy, saying that nothing has been decided yet. “What is the need to have clarity right now? It (T20 World Cup) is starting in June, we have the IPL before that and the series against Afghanistan,” Shah said on the sidelines of the Women’s Premier League auction.

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