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What the Hardik Pandya trade means for Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans | Cricket


What the Hardik Pandya trade means for Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans | Cricket


With the exception of Hardik Pandya, it’s difficult to find an Indian cricketer who can swing the new ball, hit hard lengths in the middle, guarantee a full bowling quota, anchor the batting at No 4; or when required, bat down the order, go deep inside the crease and send the ball sailing into the stands. Not just that, with proven IPL captainship credentials, also ead the Indian team in T20 cricket.

Hardik Pandya’s return is being billed as a homecoming. But who is to judge, if Pandya’s here to boost his emotional quotient. (PTI)
Hardik Pandya’s return is being billed as a homecoming. But who is to judge, if Pandya’s here to boost his emotional quotient. (PTI)

Even on the current IPL canvas where the Impact player rule has somewhat diluted the value of an all-rounder, Pandya remains a high-end stock. It was a fact that he knew and it allowed him to get the best deal for himself. If that meant moving away from Gujarat Titans, a franchise where he revived his white-ball career, so be it.

GT should know. Speaking in his deep voice for a GT promo which was released when he was appointed captain, Pandya would say, he was chasing the peak called ‘sporting success’; a journey which would sometimes pit him against ‘siblings, soulmates and many close friends’.

Pandya is a Mumbai Indian again. Their scouts had identified him like a multibagger stock, before he was picked up in the 2015 auction for a base price of 10 lakhs. Pandya’s return is being billed as a homecoming. But who is to judge, if Pandya’s here to boost his emotional quotient. The star all-rounder sees a better future for himself with his new-old franchise.


It’s a testament to GT’s squad formation skills that the make-up of their first team, other than Pandya, is likely to remain unaffected. They were quick to award the captaincy to Shubman Gill, who they had drafted in after he was released by Kolkata Knight Riders, where his batting strike rate was questioned.

“Shubman has growth in stature and standing over the last two years at the highest level of the game. His maturity and skill is evident in his on-field performance and we are extremely excited to embark on a new journey with a young leader like Shubman at the helm,” Vikram Solanki, Director of Cricket, Gujarat Titans said in a statement.

2023 has also been Gill’s breakthrough year in T20 cricket. With Indian cricket expecting bigger things from him, he can only better his batting skills from here.

Sai Sudharshan, who bats at No 3 for GT has also grown in stature, having impressive outings; both in the Indian domestic circuit for Tamil Nadu and for Surrey in county cricket. From GT’s twelve that played in the final against Chennai Super Kings, David Miller is still scoring big, Mohammed Shami is picking wickets in a heap, Noor Ahmed remains difficult to pick and Rashid Khan is peerless. Rahul Tewatia and Vijay Shankar come with limitations but the Impact player rule allows them to be utilized smartly.

GT would perhaps be anxious about a couple of their old war-horses Wriddhiman Saha and Mohit Sharma, whether they still have it. They may look for some back-ups for them in the auction.

So strong was GT’s Indian core that they played only three overseas players in their twelve at the final. Matthew Wade, who is leading Australia in the ongoing series, can easily come in. For now, they also have Kane Williamson who can bat at No 3 or 4. But to fill the Pandya-sized hole, GT strategists will have to be at their best on the auction table.


For Mumbai Indians, Pandya returns for a long-term captainship role. Whether he gets to lead immediately, will also depend on the talks the franchise has with their five-time title winning captain Rohit Sharma.

MI owner Nita Ambani called Pandya’s return ‘a heartwarming reunion’. Sharma was named as MI’s captain when the retainership list was released on Sunday. But Sharma’s long-term plans as an India player and what discussions he has with the Indian selectors and the BCCI will have to be watched. If the selectors want Pandya to lead India in the upcoming T20 World Cup, would that have any bearing on what MI decide?

What Pandya’s return does is immediately improve the balance of MI’s playing eleven. Most of Cameron Green’s success last year came batting in the top order. With the Australian all-rounder now traded to RCB, MI have in Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav a stable top three. Hardik will combine with Tim David and young Nehal Wadhera to try and recreate the kind of impact he had with Krunal and Kieron Pollard in the middle and back-end of an innings.

If fully fit, Pandya’s overs will certainly help. But MI have never been able to offer the desirable bowling back-up to Jasprit Bumrah, after Lasith Malinga and Mitchel Jhonson moved on and later after losing Trent Boult.

With their remaining 15 crore worth of purse, the amount that was deducted to regain Pandya’s services, they will need to have a good auction day. It may also be down to their scouting teams if they can unearth another multibagger stock.


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