Rohit Sharma's Captaincy Lacks Due Credit—Sunil Gavaskar
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has witnessed many exceptional captains throughout its history, including the likes of MS Dhoni, who is often regarded as one of the finest leaders in the tournament. However, batting legend Sunil Gavaskar believes that Rohit Sharma's captaincy is severely underrated, and he doesn't receive the recognition he truly deserves. Gavaskar highlighted Rohit's brilliant on-field decisions that have consistently brought success to the Mumbai Indians (MI) franchise, specifically pointing out the recent Eliminator victory over Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in the IPL 2023.
Despite a slow start to the IPL 2023 season, where MI lost four out of their first seven matches, the team showed great resilience and managed to secure five wins in their next seven encounters. Gavaskar commended the Mumbai Indians for their unwavering belief in themselves during those challenging times, which eventually led them to the playoffs.
In a thrilling match against LSG at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, the Mumbai Indians put up a dominant performance, defending a total of 182 runs and defeating their opponents by a comprehensive margin of 81 runs. The victory was made possible by outstanding contributions from Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav, and an exceptional bowling display by Akash Madhwal, who claimed an impressive 5-wicket haul to dismantle the Krunal Pandya-led LSG lineup.
Gavaskar, in an interview with India Today, drew attention to one particular moment in the match where Rohit Sharma's captaincy skills were evident. He praised Rohit for instructing Akash Madhwal to change his angle of attack while bowling to Ayush Badoni and Nicholas Pooran, which resulted in the dismissal of both batsmen in the same over. Gavaskar emphasized that this decision was not given enough credit and compared it to how similar moves made by MS Dhoni would have been widely acclaimed.
The former India captain remarked, "Of course, he is underrated. The man has won 5 titles for Mumbai Indians. Let me give you an example. Madhwal got Ayush Badoni, bowling over the wicket. He then went round the wicket to the left-hander Nicholas Pooran. Not a lot of bowlers necessarily do that because if they get their rhythm going bowling over the wicket, they will stick to it even against a left-hander trying to leave the ball. But he went around the wicket and produced an absolute gem of a delivery and got the man out. If that had been CSK and Dhoni was the captain, everybody would have said, 'Dhoni plotted Nicholas Pooran's dismissal.' This is what happens to a great extent. There is also a little bit of hype; things sometimes work out."
Gavaskar also highlighted another strategic move made by Rohit Sharma, which further demonstrated his astute captaincy. He applauded the decision to include Nehal Wadhera as an Impact Substitute in the first innings of the Eliminator match against LSG. Gavaskar mentioned that it is uncommon for teams to use batsmen as Impact Players when batting first, usually opting for bowlers in that role. Wadhera's quickfire 23 runs off just 12 balls injected vital momentum into the Mumbai Indians' innings and helped them set a challenging target of 182 runs.
The cricketing legend urged everyone to give credit to Rohit Sharma for these tactical decisions, stating, "What I am saying is Rohit Sharma did not get the credit for telling Madhwal to bowl round the wicket. The captaincy situation as well. Remember, Nehal Wadhera was used as an impact player batting first. Teams generally don't use batters as Impact Players when they are batting first. But Rohit used Nehwal when MI were batting first against LSG. So please give him credit for that as well."
With their impressive win over LSG, the Mumbai Indians secured a spot in the IPL 2023 playoffs and moved ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the points table. As they gear up to face the Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 2 on May 26th in Ahmedabad, the Mumbai Indians are now just one step away from reaching their 7th IPL final.