Veteran India off-spinner R Ashwin has backed India captain Rohit Sharma to continue leading Mumbai Indians even as they brought back Hardik Pandya in a historic trade deal ahead of IPL 2024 mini-auction as well. Ashwin said that he believes a franchise like Mumbai would have clearly communicated their plans to both Rohit and Hardik about this. However, Hardik Pandya, who began his competitive cricket career at Mumbai Indians in 2015 and went on to spend 7 successful years with them was released in 2021. He went on to lead the new franchise Gujarat Titans in 2022 and led GT to success in their inaugural season as well. He led Gujarat Titans to the IPL final in 2023 also.
“Not really (Hardik straightforward choice to lead MI?). Rohit, the leader, has got a lot of miles to run. I think they might have a progression plan. That’s the right thing to say. They would have given clarity to both of them. Mumbai is a top franchise, like CSK. I think they would have kept the communication lines clear. They would have spoken to both Hardik and Rohit. And they will go ahead and do it. That’s an inner sanctum. We don’t know what’s going to happen,” R Ashwin told former India cricketer S Badrinath on his YouTube show.
“I see both of them as hardcore, loyal players. Winning 5 titles is not a joke. If CSk win a title, Rohit is lifting the next one. Rohit has gone a long way. I know him since my teenage days. I am glad for the players. It’s good to see franchises valuing players. He was sold for Rs 10 lakh once, today he is a multi-million dollar player,” he further added.
However, Hardik Pandya is considered to be India’s next T20I captain, but he is set to be out on the sidelines due to an injury he picked up during the World Cup as well. While talking about how the trade deal would have materalised, R Ashwin said that Hardik wouldn’t have been able to say no if Mumbai had come calling as well.
“From Hardik Pandya’s point of view, I know him a bit, won’t claim that I know him inside out. From a player’s point of view, I am saying this… if a franchise like Mumbai Indians called him and told him to return, he would value the interest shown by the franchise. it’s about valuing the player,” R Ashwin concluded. “If a player is shown that love, that affection. Or it would always have been like this. ‘You go and show what you can deliver as captain, then let’s see’. I don’t know what the conversation was. It’s a milestone trade.”