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Boucher admits off-field noise may have 'clouded' Hardik after MI finish at bottom

The MI head coach also says that no decision has been made yet about Rohit Sharma's future

Abhimanyu Bose
18-May-2024
Mumbai Indians head coach Mark Boucher said that the fans' reaction to change in captaincy from Rohit Sharma to Hardik Pandya affected the team's performance in IPL 2024.
On Friday, MI's season ended with an 18-run defeat to Lucknow Super Giants, which resigned them to a tenth-place finish with just four wins from 14 games. Rohit started the game on the bench, coming on as an impact player for the chase. But that didn't stop the Wankhede crowd from chanting his name when Hardik came on to bowl.
Rohit's dismissal after entertaining the home crowd with a 38-ball 68 was first met with a hush, followed by applause as he walked off. But as Hardik walked out to the field as MI's next batter, the boos rang out.
Hardik being jeered has been almost a constant theme from MI's first game after he was traded from Gujarat Titans - where he led the side to a title and a runners-up finish - before the season.
"It wasn't great hearing all the boos," Boucher said. "Certainly, I felt sorry for Hardik as well. It's never nice to go through something like that. So yeah, there are certain things we need to address. And we are going to address them.
"Now is not probably the right time. Everyone is very disappointed and emotional, so no good decision will get made in the nearest sort of time. We need to go back. We need to evaluate exactly what's going on."
Boucher admitted that the team's performance this season was under par, but hoped the team management would make some "good calls" ahead of the next season.
"[There are] things that we need improvement on, whether on the field or off the field stuff," Boucher said. "We've got some great heads within the management team as well, and we'll sit down and we'll find a way of how to make it better ultimately for the players to produce the sort of cricket that we know these players can produce, which was under par this season.
"There were a lot of things happening, a lot of moving parts this season, which wasn't great to be a part of at certain times. There are certain things that did affect individuals, which ultimately did affect the team. So those are the sort of things we need to sit down and address and hopefully make some good calls going forward as well to address the off-field stuff."
Hardik finished the IPL 2024 with 216 runs in 13 innings at an average of 18.00 and a strike rate of 143.04. With ball, he took 11 wickets in 12 innings at an economy rate of 10.75. While evaluating Hardik's season, Boucher admitted that things off-field things might have "clouded" him, but asserted that this season would help him become a better captain.
"I think that if [Hardik] was here, he'd also be disappointed in his performances," he said. "From a captain's perspective, I thought he had some good games. There's a lot of stuff going on around him that maybe clouded his thoughts every now and again, which I said is tough for him as a leader as well.
"He certainly had a lot of support within our dressing room but it's a tough thing to go through as a player. There's a lot of sympathy for what he's going through. A lot of the stuff he is going through is, I think, uncalled for. It will certainly be a learning curve for Hardik as he grows in leadership.
"While times are tough now, a couple of things will pass and make him a tougher leader and it will certainly grow him in the role as well. I still think there are some fantastic things coming from Hardik Pandya as a leader."

Boucher on Rohit's future: 'He is the master of his own destiny'

There have been speculations that Friday's game was Rohit's last for MI, a franchise he led to five IPL titles. Boucher, though, said there was no decision made yet.
"To be honest, there hasn't been many conversations about Rohit's future," Boucher said. "I spoke to him last night or the night before, just to do basically a little review of the season. And I said, 'What's next for Rohit Sharma?' and he said to me 'World Cup'. And that's perfect. That's all I need to know about what Rohit Sharma's future is.
"For me, he is the master of his own destiny. It's a big auction next season, who knows what's going to happen? We'll just have to take each day as it comes."

Abhimanyu Bose is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo