IPL: Can Jamnagar bonding session break the ice between Rohit, Hardik?

The buzz is that Hitman will be putting himself up for the mega auction in 2025

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The Mumbai Indians ownership wanted their players to shift the gaze from cricket, not to speak of the Rohit Sharma-Hardik Pandya captaincy row, by jetting them away to their sanctuary in Jamnagar in Gujarat – which hosted the much hyped pre-wedding celebrations of Anant Ambani.

A five-day break in their IPL schedule made it possible as the five-time champions will now be looking to turn the tide against Delhi Capitals at home on Sunday.

After a dismal start with three consecutive losses, the five-time champions immersed themselves in a medley of recreational pursuits far away from the madding crowd. In a video shared by the MI franchise, the players were seen revelling in aqua adventures and soaking in all the music and dance at a soirée arranged by the team management.

Rohit Sharma, accompanied by his family, delighted in the experience of jet-skiing while no prizes that there was an obligatory photo of the former captain and Pandya in an embrace during one of the aqua sessions.

Sources in the know reveal that it was far from a routine bonding session for the team but the Ambanis have now jumped into the fray to address the negative vibes among the fans over the captaincy change which has now continued for far too long.

The atmosphere within the camp has become a subject of intense scrutiny, more so after captain Pandya faced jeers from spectators in the initial matches.

The impending return of Suryakumar Yadav, the top-ranked T20I batsman, following his recovery from a series of injuries, certainly adds to the firepower of the MI arsenal. This means Naman Dhir, the 24-year-old all-rounder from Punjab who had acquitted himself as the No.3, will have to make way.

‘’He (Sky) joined the practice session yesterday and is available. In the last game, Boult bowled a great spell for the Royals but we are looking to come back strongly,’’ Dhir said in a media interaction.

Looking at the bigger picture, it seems that the departure of their five-time title winning captain is round the corner as Rohit’s disenchantment with the Mumbai Paltan is almost complete. There is enough substance in a recent media report that the India captain in all formats is going to put himself up for the mega auction in 2024 when the teams will undergo a complete overhaul after the three-year cycle.

There are, of course, lots of ifs and buts as Rohit will turn 38 this month-end and he may not have the well honed fitness of a Virat Kohli or the natural athleticism of Mahendra Singh Dhoni to extend his career for another three-year cycle. However, he has been batting as well as ever and could be an asset as a player-mentor for any other less demanding franchise.

Much as MI have a tradition of finding a place for their greats in the dugout (Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Kieron Pollard or Lasith Malinga), it’s difficult to see Rohit toeing that line. Time alone can tell.

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