New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS): Legendary South Africa batter AB de Villiers believes Hardik Pandya’s speculated move to Mumbai Indians from Gujarat Titans ahead of IPL 2024 retentions is happening as the all-rounder might have felt his time in the newly-created franchise is over.
He has also predicted Hardik to captain Mumbai in future, with Rohit Sharma carrying the responsibilities of being India’s all-format captain. Over the last few days, speculations have risen of Hardik moving back to Mumbai, the franchise from where he started his IPL career in 2015.
From an uncapped player, Hardik rose to be Mumbai's vital cog in the wheel as a fast-bowling all-rounder, earning an India cap across all formats and was a member of their IPL title-winning seasons in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020.
He was released by Mumbai ahead of IPL 2022 mega auctions and became captain of Gujarat franchise, leading them to the title in their debut season in 2022, becoming Player of the Match in the final against Rajasthan Royals and led them to a runners-up finish in 2023.
“I don’t know if its going to cause them a bit of a headache on who’s going to be the captain. I mean, Rohit is the captain and loves leading from the front. Its exciting as he (Hardik) was a big player for Mumbai Indians for many years. He loved playing at the Wankhede Stadium. He won the trophy with Gujarat Titans and then also went to the final (of the 2023 season).”
“He probably feels his time there is done and now head back to Mumbai Indians. I have a funny feeling Rohit is going to let him (Hardik) captain and take the reins, as Rohit carries a lot of pressure of captaining Team India. Maybe that is going to be the move, but let’s see what happens," said de Villiers on his YouTube channel.
De Villiers, who cemented an IPL legacy of dishing out whirlwind 360-degree knocks for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, feels his former team, with a new head coach in Andy Flower, can let go of pacer Harshal Patel and leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who were roped in the franchise at a cost of INR 10.75 crore each.
"RCB paid a lump sum for them (Harshal and Hasaranga) and maybe they are feeling to shift around. Releasing them will open up a big purse for them. This is where the scouting will come in and see at the handful pool of players they are looking at.”
“They might also go back into the auction and buy both of them, but it can also backfire too and could end up buying Harshal for a bit more. Long story short, Mr. Flower seems to have some plans up his sleeve in the set-up and this seems one of them," he added.