IPL 2024: Navjot Singh Sidhu picks Rohit Sharma’s white-ball successor for Team India

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By Margaretd. Regina

After India‘s commendable yet ultimately fruitless performance in the ODI World Cup 2023, where they fell short against Australia in the final, speculation swirled around Rohit Sharma‘s leadership role in the Indian team across all formats. However, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary Jay Shah promptly quashed all uncertainties by reaffirming Rohit’s captaincy for the imminent T20 World Cup 2024 set to unfold in the West Indies and the United States of America (USA), commencing on June 1.

Former Indian opening batter Navjot Singh Sidhu has thrown his support behind star all-rounder Hardik Pandya to assume the mantle of full-time captaincy for the national team once Rohit decides to step down. Currently leading the Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, Pandya has already captained India on several occasions, having taken over from Rohit as skipper before the auction. Sidhu is convinced that Pandya represents the future of Indian cricket and commended the BCCI’s decision to groom him for leadership.

Describing Pandya as the embodiment of India’s cricketing future, Sidhu highlighted Rohit’s exemplary leadership qualities while acknowledging his remarkable skill as a player. Despite Rohit’s prowess, Sidhu emphasized the need to look ahead and pave the way for the next generation of leaders, with Pandya emerging as a prime candidate for the role.

“Hardik Pandya is the future. Rohit is now around 36-37. He has a couple more years left. He is a superb captain and a wonderful player. If you ask me, he is poetry in motion. Whenever I see him, it looks like time stops. But, you have to actually look forward and prepare the ground for someone to take over,” Sidhu was quoted as saying by the NDTV.

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Recognition of leadership potential

Sidhu, who is commentating in the IPL for the Star Sports, reiterated that he isn’t proposing Hardik for Test match captaincy. Nevertheless, he emphasized Pandya’s role as the team’s vice-captain, noting his experience leading India in T20Is for nearly a year in Rohit’s absence. Sidhu asserted that Pandya’s appointment as vice-captain by the BCCI is a testament to his suitability for leadership roles. He highlighted the extensive planning and consideration involved in such decisions, affirming Pandya’s natural aptitude for white-ball captaincy.

“I am not advocating Hardik Pandya for Test match captaincy. But, he is your vice-captain. He has captained India in T20Is for close to a year when Rohit was not there. Hardik is your natural choice. That’s why BCCI has named him the team’s vice-captain. There’s a lot of planning, lot of consideration that goes in before BCCI takes a call. Hardik is a natural choice for white-ball captaincy,” the 60-year-old said concluded.

Under Pandya’s leadership, the Gujarat Titans (GT) experienced significant success, achieving their maiden title triumph in their inaugural season in 2022. Pandya continued to steer the team admirably, guiding them to yet another final appearance in the subsequent edition.

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