IPL 2024: Boucher Admits, Fans Reaction To Captaincy Switch Affected Mumbai Indians Performance

(MENAFN- IANS) Mumbai, May 18 (IANS) Mumbai Indians head coach Mark Boucher admitted that the fans' reaction to the change in captaincy from Rohit Sharma to Hardik Pandya affected the team's performance in IPL 2024.

The tumultuous season for Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL 2024 reached its nadir on Friday as the team succumbed to an 18-run defeat against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) at Wankhede Stadium, marking their tenth-place finish with only four wins from 14 matches.

The dramatic and controversial switch in captaincy from Rohit Sharma to Hardik Pandya has been at the center of this disappointing campaign, and head coach Mark Boucher didn't shy away from addressing the impact of fan reactions on the team's performance.

"It wasn't great hearing all the boos," Boucher said. "Certainly, I felt sorry for Hardik as well. It's never nice to go through something like that. So yeah, there are certain things we need to address. And we are going to address them.

"Now is not probably the right time. Everyone is very disappointed and emotional, so no good decision will get made in the nearest sort of time. We need to go back. We need to evaluate exactly what's going on.”

Rohit Sharma, a franchise legend and architect of MI's five IPL titles, began the decisive match on the bench, later joining the chase as an impact player. His 38-ball 68 reignited hope among the Wankhede faithful, whose chants of "Rohit! Rohit!" echoed through the stadium.

However, his dismissal brought a palpable hush, quickly followed by applause. This starkly contrasted with the boos that greeted Hardik Pandya as he stepped onto the field-a persistent reaction from the fans since his controversial trade from Gujarat Titans, where he had led the team to a title and a runners-up finish.

Boucher highlighted the emotional toll and the need for a period of reflection before making any significant decisions.

“There are things that we need improvement on, whether on the field or off the field stuff," Boucher said. "We've got some great heads within the management team as well, and we'll sit down and we'll find a way of how to make it better ultimately for the players to produce the sort of cricket that we know these players can produce, which was under par this season.

This season, MI's performance was undeniably underwhelming. With Hardik Pandya at the helm, they failed to find consistency. Hardik's individual performance also reflected the broader struggles, scoring 216 runs in 13 innings with a modest average of 18.00 and a strike rate of 143.04, alongside taking 11 wickets in 12 innings with an economy rate of 10.75. Boucher suggested that off-field issues may have affected Hardik's form and leadership.

"I think that if (Hardik) was here, he'd also be disappointed in his performances," Boucher remarked. "From a captain's perspective, I thought he had some good games. There's a lot of stuff going on around him that maybe clouded his thoughts every now and again, which I said is tough for him as a leader as well."

"He certainly had a lot of support within our dressing room but it's a tough thing to go through as a player. There's a lot of sympathy for what he's going through. A lot of the stuff he is going through is, I think, uncalled for. It will certainly be a learning curve for Hardik as he grows in leadership.”

Despite the challenges, Boucher expressed confidence in Hardik's potential for growth. "While times are tough now, a couple of things will pass and make him a tougher leader and it will certainly grow him in the role as well. I still think there are some fantastic things coming from Hardik Pandya as a leader."

Speculations about Rohit Sharma's future with MI have been rife, particularly after the emotional scenes at the Wankhede Stadium. However, Boucher stated that no definitive decision had been made. "To be honest, there hasn't been many conversations about Rohit's future," he revealed. "I spoke to him last night or the night before, just to do basically a little review of the season. And I said, 'What's next for Rohit Sharma?' and he said to me 'World Cup'. And that's perfect. That's all I need to know about what Rohit Sharma's future is."

The season's end marks a period of introspection and potential restructuring for MI. Boucher, alongside the management team, aims to identify and address the underlying issues to rejuvenate the squad.

"There were a lot of things happening, a lot of moving parts this season, which wasn't great to be a part of at certain times. There are certain things that did affect individuals, which ultimately did affect the team," Boucher concluded. "We've got some great heads within the management team as well, and we'll sit down and we'll find a way of how to make it better ultimately for the players to produce the sort of cricket that we know these players can produce, which was under par this season."



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