IPL 2024: Heat now on Hardik Pandya the batter too | Cricket News

Hardik Pandya, the captain of Mumbai Indians, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in this IPL. His trade as captain from Gujarat Titans to replace a highly successful skipper in Rohit Sharma, also an India captain, was not received well by the fans and in every venue he has played, more so at the Wankhede, he has been hooted by the crowd and has been called uncharitable names on social media.
His bowling has been patchy too and his tactics as captain, especially the reluctance to use an in-form Jasprit Bumrah first up, lacks logic. As a bowler, his 17 overs have cost 186 runs, as he has been carted around for 10.94 runs per over.
But it is his diminishing powers as a batter that is beginning to hurt the team. It hasn’t helped that in every game, he has walked in to bat at different positions. For the Gujarat Titans, he batted usually in the top four, which allowed him to evaluate things, play himself in and then go hell for leather in the company of power hitters like Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan.
At his peak for MI, from 2016 to 2019, he usually came in to bat at No.6 or No.5 and had the big strikers like Kieron Pollard or brother Krunal Pandya to do the heavy lifting with him.
In his second stint for MI, Pandya has batted at No.7 (vs GT), No.5 (vs SRH), No. 6 (vs RR), No. 4 (vs DC), No. 5 (vs RCB), No. 5 (vs CSK), No. 5 (vs PBKS), No.7 (vs RR). His 151 runs in eight games have come at a strike rate of 142.45.
That looks flattering because of his six-ball un beaten 21 vs RCB, when the game was done and dusted. Remove that and his strike-rate reduces to 130. Of his 151 runs, 96 have come at Wankhede, one of the best batting surfaces this IPL has presented. But even there, in the runathon vs Delhi Capitals, where every batter facing 10 balls or more batted at a strike-rate in excess of 180, his 33-ball 39 looked laboured and almost cost the team.
Is it the burden of captaincy and the all-round booing and hooting? Is it is the excessive bromance that he is indulging in with teammates and rivals in an effort to look unflustered? Is it the pressure of auditioning for a WC spot? Is it the lack of game time in domestic cricket? May be, it is a combination of all the above. But, Hardik the destructive batter has disappeared.
One can only hope for MI and India’s sake, he resurfaces soon.


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