IPL 2024: Hardik will have to win the dressing room to succeed at Mumbai Indians, says ex-pacer Balaji

Ahmedabad: As Mumbai Indians played Gujarat Titans in their first of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 at the Narendra Modi Stadium here, the spotlight was on the five-time champion’s current skipper Hardik Pandya and his predecessor Rohit Sharma.

From their body language during the match to their demeanor when interacting with each other, every action of theirs was minutely scrutinized by the media from the start of the match till the day after. There were comments made about the way the fans booed Pandya on his first appearance against Gujarat Titans, the team he left to join Mumbai Indians.

As the Mumbai Indians lost their first match, former India pacer Laxmipathy Balaji said Pandya will have to win the dressing room if he wants to be successful as the new captain of the team.

Speaking exclusively on Star Sports Press Room, Balaji said, “It’s been going on for a while, definitely it’s not normally something which you see, a lot of friendships happen, players have gone to different franchises, yes this is one of the cases. But being in a professional field you have to accept that one side is emotional, and one side is something very big. When you come to replace a personality like Rohit Sharma, who is already a phenomenal achiever when it comes to Mumbai Indians.”

“Definitely it will take some time, it will settle. And you have to win your own men, so for Hardik to win the whole dressing room is very important as a player and as a human so definitely that trust needs to be earned and it will take some time to adapt and accept and I’m sure he’s good enough and professional enough and he’ll accept that and he’s got a young team around him and when they start winning the emotions will be different. If they start losing, then you have problems to face. So slowly things will pop up. It’s better to have a friend in a winning front rather than a losing front,” Balaji said.

Former Australia cricketer Tom Moody spoke on whether there will be a switch in captaincy again for Mumbai Indians.

“I’ll be very surprised if that’s the case. It’ll be very short-sighted if suddenly five games in or eight games in it’ll change. It’s that long-term vision. So I think for Hardik Pandya, elevation in that leadership role, as controversial as it was and as a shock it was to lots of people, particularly MI fans, I think it’s a long-term decision. As Bala said, that thing to make sure he wins the dressing room and builds those strong relationships with key people in the dressing room is key to his success moving forward,” Moody told Star Sports.

Mumbai Indians will next take on Rajasthan Royals in their first home match at the Wankhede on April 1.

Usually a poor starter, Mumbai Indians will hope to win their first points of IPL 2024 in their next match.

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