Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya Credits: Twitter

Former India cricketer Aakash Chopra has remarked that it is critical for newly appointed Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya to stay fit, or else the decision to name him as the skipper for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 could backfire the team spectacularly.

The Mumbai Indians have made a major decision to replace Rohit Sharma as captain for the upcoming season with all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

During the IPL 2022 and 2023 seasons, Pandya was seen leading Gujarat Titans (GT) winning the championship with them in the maiden season followed by a runners-up finish this year, while Rohit Sharma had an underwhelming last three seasons for Mumbai Indians.

On his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra stated that changing their captain would not have been an easy choice for the Mumbai Indians. He also looked into the risk factor involved with the choice to make Pandya the leader of the MI franchise and said that he could have been vice-captain of the team but was made captain with a future in mind.

“These decisions are tough. But, if we talk about Hardik Pandya, it is important for him to stay fit. If Hardik Pandya does not remain fit, everything falls on its head. You picked a player, who is not fit and you have also made him captain. It’s a huge one,” Aakash Chopra said.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra Credits: Twitter

“He left the captaincy at Gujarat Titans and we felt he might be vice-captain over here. But he has been named captain,” Aakash Chopra added.

Hardik Pandya’s IPL career began with Mumbai Indians in 2015 and went on to become one of the game’s best all-rounders. Hardik was signed as an uncapped player in 2015 for INR 10 lakhs and was a key member of Mumbai’s title-winning seasons in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020. He could be keen to lead the side to the sixth IPL title in the forthcoming season.

Hardik Pandya Has A Calm Demeanor And Is Not Someone Who Gets Excited A Lot – Aakash Chopra

When asked about Pandya’s captaincy, Aakash Chopra hailed him as a calm leader, citing the example of him being the Gujarat Titans for the last two seasons. He also praised the all-rounder for his readiness to own his mistakes and apologize and added that Ashish Nehra played a huge role in his captaincy stint with the Gujarat-based franchise.

“He led Gujarat Titans for two years. The first year, they won. In the second year, they were runners-up. He captained really well. He has a calm demeanour and is not someone who gets excited a lot. If something goes wrong, he puts his hands up and admits his mistake,” Aakash Chopra further added.

Gujarat Titans
Gujarat Titans Credits: Twitter

“I also feel Ashish Nehra has a big role in Hardik Pandya becoming the captain that he is. Mumbai also has a very good support staff, so he will get inputs from there as well,”  Aakash Chopra concluded.

Hardik Pandya guided Gujarat Titans to their maiden IPL title in 2022, winning Player of the Match against Rajasthan Royals.

The Titans reached the IPL final for the second season in a row in 2023, finishing second to the Chennai Super Kings. The IPL 2022 finished first in the league points table in both seasons under Hardik’s leadership.