Alpha male to subordinate, transformation test for Rohit in Mumbai Indians

Rohit will play under Hardik Pandya in the upcoming IPL. (Source:

He became the captain of India riding a wave of success with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He gradually settled into the new role and the national team started doing well under him. That’s when Rohit Sharma lost IPL captaincy, after 12 seasons and five title wins.

Hardik Pandya’s return to Mumbai as the captain is seemingly a step towards the future. Having lost in the play-offs last year, the team had failed to make the cut in 2021 and 2022. Rohit turns 37 on April 30 and he has spent nearly 17 years in international cricket. Although troubled with fitness issues, Pandya was spoken of as India’s T20 captain last year. Choosing him instead of someone shouldering the responsibility of two national teams was not an outlandish decision.

What does Rohit do? He has to get used to this reality. This was a dressing room where he was the boss for a long time. He was the captain in competitions featuring national teams and his franchise not too long ago. From the alpha male to subordinate is not an easy transition. Rohit has to accept this for two months and become familiar with the new environment.

Rohit and Pandya will also have to ensure there are no personality collisions. This possibility can’t be ruled out in matters like these involving superstars. These are big personalities, who were both captains of franchises until last season. One replacing the other as skipper and the two being in the same team leaves room for ego clash. Being seniors, they have to avoid this scenario.

From doing man management, Rohit has to start looking after himself. This is a massive role revision for a person who has led the team for so long and who did not give up leadership on his own. MS Dhoni was removed as captain of Rising Pune Supergiant in the middle of the 2017 season. He adjusted quietly under Steve Smith, as the team fell a run short of Mumbai’s total in the final.

Dhoni’s demeanour as a team member under Virat Kohli was also appreciated. However, Rohit’s case is different. In 2017, Dhoni knew Chennai Super Kings would return from a two-year ban in 2018. While playing under Kohli, he had opted out of captaincy.

Rohit did not do that. He was asked to vacate that post even before the arrival of Pandya, at the end of last season. This is a new challenge for a player who has overcome a few in a long career. It concerns Rohit the person, not the cricketer. In reels on social media, India teammates praise him for being a chilled out character. Among other things, this facet of his persona will also be tested.

That said, a big burden removed in a competition of non-stop pressure and a manic schedule, this might not be a bad situation to be in for Rohit. Irrespective of what happens in the IPL, he is likely to lead India at the T20 World Cup starting in June, as indicated by Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary. His Test captaincy won’t be in doubt after the 4-1 series win against England.

It’s not clear if the Mumbai think-tank had these considerations in mind when they took the decision on captaincy, but this arrangement suits Rohit, if he secures a place in the XI. His batting has got better in the last few years and he has been in good nick of late, although in different formats. Freed of additional and heavy baggage, he can have fun on pitches mostly suitable for stroke-play.

One of the best in white-ball cricket after he started opening the innings in ODIs in 2013, Rohit is one of the IPL’s biggest achievers. A winner with Deccan Chargers before joining Mumbai, he is fourth in the list of all-time run-scorers, second among the six-hitters and fourth on boundaries hit. In an unexpected way, this is a chance for Rohit the batter to revel in those before the T20 World Cup. 

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