Hardik’s captaincy in focus as Klaasen threat looms large in Hyderabad

Hardik Pandya, MI vs GT, IPL 2024 (Image IPL)

A lot of eyebrows were raised against some of Hardik Pandya’s decisions after Mumbai Indians’ lost to Gujarat Titans (GT) in their first game of the IPL 2024 season. He will look to correct them when his team takes the field against Pat Cummins’ Sunrisers Hyderabad in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

In MI’s opening match against Gujarat Titans (GT), all eyes were on the dynamic duo of Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma. The transition from Rohit’s captaincy to Pandya’s leadership was a topic of discussion. Although MI had the potential to secure a victory, they faltered due to a series of unfortunate events. Despite impressive performances from Jasprit Bumrah and Dewald Brevis, coupled with Rohit’s explosive batting, MI’s momentum was disrupted by a sudden collapse and questionable decision-making.

They were cruising towards a win, but that’s when wickets fell in a heap. Coupled with poor decision-making from captain Hardik Pandya, it led to MI continuing the trend of losing their first game of the season. One of the biggest talking points in MI’s defeat was Tim David coming ahead of Hardik Pandya when Rashid Khan was bowling. In all truthfulness, Pandya is a better player of spin, and he should have come ahead of David. The reverse happened and MI paid the price.

In response to queries about Hardik Pandya’s lower batting order position, MI batting coach Kieron Pollard dismissed the notion of it being an individual decision.

“No decision is made on full autonomy, so we can’t say it is his decision. As a team, we have plans; we talk about setting entry points for batters. The top order batted deep into the game, and we also had two power hitters to go in the back end,” Pollard told reporters after the GT match.

“There will likely be a chat about who should have gone earlier,” he added.

Clearly, the think-tank accepts that there was an error made by their side, even when skipper Pandya was sitting in the dugout. This suggests that Pandya is still finding his feet as the MI skipper.

 Sometimes, even with ample amount of resources at disposal, one get confused, and that’s what happened with Hardik and the MI team management. One off-day, but Pandya has the whole season to prove himself.

So far in this IPL, all the home teams have won, and Pandya’s team would love to change the trend by beating SRH in their own den. Standing in between Pandya and MI’s first win will be Heinrich Klaasen, who almost pulled off a remarkable chase in Kolkata. The wicket-keeper batter has already shown that he’s in red-hot form, and it will be difficult for any bowling unit to stop him. Be it against pace or spin, Klaasen has got the game to succeed against all kinds of bowling. MI has variety in their bowling, but also there’s a lot of experience, which will come under the scanner and test Pandya’s captaincy in this game.

The SRH openers fared well in the first game but must also strive for consistency if they aim to excel in the competition.

SRH has heavily invested in the pinch-hitting abilities of Abdul Samad, and it is imperative that he fulfills this promise soon. Seasoned campaigner Bhuvneshwar Kumar faced a tough outing against Andre Russell on Saturday night and will be eager to bounce back strongly. Despite Marco Jansen conceding many runs, playing on home turf should see them return stronger. The focus will also be on Mayank Markande as he faces his former team.

Both teams will vie for their first win at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, where they will compete for the ninth time and the 22nd time overall in the IPL since SRH’s debut in 2013. In their 21 IPL encounters, Mumbai Indians have the upper hand with 12 victories against Sunrisers Hyderabad’s nine. However, in the last five meetings, Mumbai has won four times, with SRH’s lone win coming in 2022 at the Wankhede Stadium.

While past records may favour MI, in the T20 format, no team can be underestimated, making this clash evenly poised. Both teams seek a turnaround not only to recover from defeats but also to reshape history.

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