Mumbai Indians head coach Mark Boucher has revealed that Rohit Sharma’s removal from the team’s captaincy was a tough decision meant to free him as a batter given that he did not have a great run in the past couple of seasons.
The Reliance-owned franchise, in the most talked about one-way ‘all-cash trade’ in IPL history, bought back all-rounder Hardik Pandya after his successful two-year stint with Gujarat Titans. The team subsequently named him the skipper replacing Rohit, who led the side to five IPL titles.
“We saw a window to get Hardik back as a player,” Boucher told the South Africa-based podcast ‘Banter with The Boys’.
“We still want him (Rohit) as a player, absolutely because we know he has some great value to add and just go out there and actually enjoy it, without the hype of being the captain,” he said.
“He probably hasn’t had the best couple of seasons with the bat but he has done well as captain and I just thought after speaking with the whole Mumbai Indians group, we thought maybe this is an opportunity for him to step in for his last year or so,” the coach added.
While the hype around an Indian skipper will still be there, Boucher expects Rohit to operate more freely with the bat.
“He will still captain India so that hype is going to be there but when he steps into the IPL, maybe take that extra bit of pressure off him as captain and maybe we get the best out of Rohit Sharma…,” he hoped.
“…playing with a nice smile on his face and spending time with a beautiful family that he has got, there’s no easy way to do it,” he said.
Boucher said Rohit’s busy schedule also puts pressure on the Indian captain.
“One thing I picked up with Roh (nickname) is that he is a fantastic guy and he has been captaining for ages and he has been doing well and not just for MI but for India as well, he walks into a place and there are cameras on him and he is so busy,” Boucher said.
Rohit enjoys a massive fan base on social media and Boucher urged fans to understand his removal was a cricketing decision.
“A lot of people don’t understand this in India and people get quite emotional about it…it is more of a cricketing decision that was made…it will bring the best out of Rohit as a person and a player and let him just go out there enjoy and score some good runs.” On Pandya’s return, Boucher said that the Baroda man has shown admirable leadership skills for Gujarat Titans in the past two editions.
“He is a Mumbai Indians boy and he won his first year as captain and came runner up in the second year, so there’s obviously some very good leadership skills,” he said.