Gavaskar on Pandya’s return MI. Sunil Gavaskar called Hardik Pandya’s return to Mumbai Indians ‘shocking’ ahead of IPL 2024.

Hardik Pandya’s return to the Mumbai Indians continues to stir the pot with every passing day. The prodigal all-rounder’s switch to the joint-most successful IPL franchise of all time last month led to several speculations. After all, why would he leave a team he had captained to two consecutive IPL finals, winning one? And what does it mean for Hardik’s role now that he is back with the team where he began his career in 2015? These questions were addressed on Friday evening when MI made a surprising announcement, appointing Hardik as captain, replacing Rohit Sharma after his leadership in 11 seasons.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar found Hardik’s move ‘shocking’ given his success with Gujarat Titans. In his maiden season with the franchise as captain, Hardik led GT to the IPL title last year and finished runner-up this year, losing a last-ball thriller to Chennai Super Kings. The Hardik-Ashish Nehra combination was a perfect recipe for success, but apparently, Pandya had other plans. Gavaskar believes that the reason behind Hardik’s switch is something only he can address, but the move could well be related to Pandya’s growing stature as a player.

Pandya's return MI
Pandya’s return MI

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Mumbai Indians’ Dynamics (Gavaskar on Pandya’s return MI):

“There were rumors floating already about Hardik Pandya being transferred/traded to Mumbai Indians. That came as a bit of a shock since Pandya had not only led the Gujarat team to two back-to-back finals, winning one title, but he also seemed well-settled there. Or so it seemed. When a successful captain wants to leave a successful franchise, then the reasons are beyond a common fan’s thinking. Pandya had been picked by Mumbai Indians as a raw talent, and he had now become one of the biggest names not just in Indian cricket but in the world game,” the India legend wrote in his column for The Mid-Day.

Hardik has already taken over as India’s T20I captain – albeit unofficially – and his appointment as MI captain only quashes reports that Rohit will return to lead the team at next year’s T20 World Cup. As for Pandya’s homecoming, reports have already revealed that he laid down a condition: if not for captaincy, he would not come back. Consequently, MI sensed the need for a change in leadership, especially considering the five-time champions haven’t secured the title in three seasons. Another factor that Gavaskar believes contributes to Hardik’s return is that Pandya’s heart has always been with MI.

Gavaskar on Pandya's return MI
Gavaskar on Pandya’s return MI

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Pandya’s return to Mumbai Indians analyzed.

“There’s plenty of speculation still going on as to why he wanted to leave and go back to where he had started, but then, aren’t there so many instances of very successful Indians overseas who have preferred to give all that up and come back home? Pandya has never made a secret of the fact that he considers Mumbai Indians as his home. It tells you of the wonderful family atmosphere that the Mumbai Indians have created where even those who have left have nothing but good things to say about the franchise,” added Gavaskar.

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